The bantam AAA St. Albert Cardinals continue to impress.
Last weekend they went 4-0 in two doubleheaders at Legion Memorial Park, beating Okotoks Red 7-3 and 11-6 before topping the Red Deer Braves 6-4 and 4-3.
In the previous two meetings between St. Albert and Red Deer, each team won one game by one run each.
“We knew what to expect from them and we got what we were looking for,” Cardinals manager Dave Maguire said after Sunday’s sweep. “I thought our pitching was solid. We hit the ball pretty good. The defence was not really very good, but now we’ve identified things we have to work on next week.”
In both wins Sunday the Cardinals came back from deficits, but Maguire wasn’t too worried about what seems to be a somewhat regular occurrence this season.
“It shows that our team has a lot of character and they don’t panic when they’re behind,” Maguire said of his 16-2 Red Birds “They stay on task. I’d rather be ahead, obviously, but I’m really happy when we can come from behind like this.”
In the weekend finale, the Cardinals fell behind early 1-0 in the opening inning. After Joel Mazurkewich walked and Jason Garrett reached on an error from shortstop Ryan Anderson, Jay Florkevich allowed a passed ball. After the ball was past him and reached the fence, he threw it back to pitcher Riley Moskaluk who was covering at home plate but the throw wasn’t accurate enough, allowing the opening run to score.
In the third inning, St. Albert pulled ahead 2-1 with a run scoring on an error and Tyler Mecir driving in Carson Bokenfohr with a hard double deep to left-centre field.
The back and forth affair continued. In the bottom of the fourth, Red Deer sent out pinch hitter Reign Letkeman who hit an RBI single. Mazurkewich, the next batter up, did the same. The Cardinals would answer back. After Mat Brisson got to first base with a walk and then reached second on a passed ball, Florkevich drove him in with a RBI single to left field.
The duo came up big in the clutch in the top of the seventh inning, as well. With two out in the inning, Brisson hit a single to right field and made sure to steal second base to get into scoring position. When Florkevich came up to bat, he made no mistake, singling his teammate home.
The Braves had a chance for redemption in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Cardinals’ pitcher Aaron Larose earned the save, getting all three Braves batters to pop out.
Florkevich went 4-for-4 in the game, and also had one hit in the first game Sunday.
“I’ve been in a slump lately, so it felt good to finally break out of that,” the catcher said. “Today, I just started doing good again.”
Maguire was confident the seventh inning would end up how it did, with who he had due up to bat.
“Mat’s got very good speed and he’s a very smart base runner, so I don’t want to be cocky and say I knew, but I had a pretty good feeling that once he got on base and once he got to second base, that Jay was going to come through for us and that we were going to take the lead,” he said.
In the first game against Red Deer, the Cardinals came back from a late deficit. The Cardinals led 3-2 after five innings, but Red Deer scored two in the top of the sixth. In the St. Albert half of the inning, the home side jumped ahead 6-4 on RBIs from Layne Viveiros and Riley Moskaluk, as well as one run scoring on an error.
St. Albert’s next game is Tuesday at Rundle Park against SEEBA at 7 p.m.