Any weekend you outscore your opponents 61-15 can be considered successful.
Rattling off four wins, two each against Okotoks and Calgary, the St. Albert bantam AAA Cardinals did precisely that in their most dominating four-game set of the season.
In Saturday's double-header against Okotoks, the Cards won the first game 13-4 at Legion Memorial Park, then closed out game two with a 15-3 win.
“We played at the level that we're capable of playing,” said head coach Greg Reiniger. “We didn't allow ourselves to play down. Offensively we did quite well, our pitchers did a pretty good job and we had a very good weekend defensively.”
Last year's Okotoks squad was tougher, admitted Reiniger. In 2008, the Foothills squad fielded almost exclusively second-year bantam players. However, this season is somewhat of a rebuilding year for Okotoks with a roster largely composed of rookies.
“Based on the fact that we played them a few times earlier, they're a little on the inexperienced side. Now that we're on nine-man ball where not everybody has to hit, that makes them a little stronger, but once you get through their first half of the batting order, it thins out quite a bit.”
It might not have seemed a 'better' defensive game compared to the combined seven runs conceded versus Okotoks, but having caught an early and large lead in the first game against Calgary, Reiniger decided to give his young pitchers experience battling difficult situations.
Reiniger pointed out that Calgary is facing similar challenges this year with a host of young players. “They have a bunch of young kids, small guys. They ended up scoring a few runs to make it closer.”
Overall, Reiniger was impressed with his starting staff of Joe Pasychnyk, Nolan Werre, Chance Wheatley and Ryan Anderson. While the coach had greater expectations of his pitching rotation, it was his bats that gave him a bit more of a surprise.
“We scored runs early but we scored consistently throughout the game. We didn't score early and then go to sleep for a few innings and then all of a sudden score again. We didn't have a lot of innings in the weekend where we didn't score at least one run. It was a lot more consistent.”
Up next for the bantam Cardinals are the Spruce Grove White Sox in a home-and-home series tonight and tomorrow. The Sox are the only team to defeat the Cardinals in either regular season or tournament play.
That can be attributed to one of the league's best pitchers so far this season in Logan Seifrit. Both times the squads have played each other, Seifrit has been on the mound. Reiniger concedes the young pitching star has either sent the Cardinal bats back to the dugout or forced them to ground to the infield for easy plays.
But momentum is on St. Albert's side, says the coach.
“If we continue to play the way that we're playing right now, we'll be fine. If we face Seifrit, we're in for a battle just like any team would be. He's good enough to beat anybody. If we face one of their other guys then I feel pretty good.
“But we have to get over the Logan thing at some point.”
Chances are the Cardinals will only see Seifrit once, which will likely be tonight. This weekend, Sherwood Park is hosting its annual baseball tournament. Both Spruce Grove and St. Albert will end up playing five games between today and Sunday, meaning both squads will be looking to preserve their best pitchers for the weekend.
“Our thinking probably is going to just spread guys out and give everybody a limited pitch count. And the last thing Spruce Grove needs is Seifrit throwing a complete game then not being able to throw on the weekend.
“We stacked up pretty well against Spruce Grove but when you face kids like Logan who throw the way he does … he's got the better of us the first two games, no doubt about it. I'm not overly concerned about the balance of the staff, however.”
Tonight's game is in Spruce Grove at Henry Singer Park. Tomorrow's tilt is at Legion Park. Both games start at 7 p.m.