One would think that a 3-2 finish in a tournament far from home would make any baseball coach smile.
Not so when that coach is in charge of a team with such lofty expectations as the Canfield Cardinals. Canfield participated in the Mingo Bay Classic in Myrtle Beach last week and despite winning three out of five, Cardinal head coach Matt Koenig sounded like a man who just realized his spring break was over.
“Overall it was a good trip,” said Koenig in a non-convincing tone, “but we were up and down. We have a lot of potential. A couple days we weren’t as strong mentally. That’ll cost you against good teams. We were a little disappointed as a team in how we played.”
Koenig’s clan could not have been disappointed in how the trip started last Monday. The Cardinals got four hits including a three-run homerun by Justen Vrabel to bamboozle Bamberg, S.C., 17-8. Also getting in on the 15-hit Canfield attack was Nick Reinthaler and Brett Cooper who combined for six RBIs. Reinthaler had three hits while Cooper collected two hits.
After having virtually no offense in a 3-2 loss on Tuesday, Canfield climbed back on the offense express the following day and whitewashed McClancy, N.Y., 17-0.
“The kids bounced back with a good game (last Wednesday),” Koenig bragged.
It was so good that it virtually ended after one inning. Canfield clobbered the New York kids for 10 runs in the bottom of the first to put the game out of reach. The biggest blow in that first frame was a grand slam by Reinthaler. He had two hits as did Ben Angelo who also drove in a pair of runs. Brock McGivern had three RBIs. Kyle Vaclav smashed two doubles and scored a couple times. Dan Calai went to 2-0 on the year by tossing a two-hitter.
True to what seemed to be the pattern of the tournament, however, Canfield came back on Thursday and only scored one run in a 3-1 loss to a three-time state champion from West Virginia.
The week and the trip south ended with a bang when Canfield nailed another New York school 15-2. Five games, five very different outcomes for the Cardinals may have given Koenig indigestion, but also may have given the coach some hope.
“We scored on offense,” Koenig said. “We knew the potential was there. We just need to do that every day.”
Koenig also knows there is potential on the hill and he was very anxious to announce how well he thought his hurlers did at the Mingo Bay Classic.
“(Ron) Sullivan gave up only two earned runs but lost on Tuesday,” Koenig explained. “Dan Calai pitched a two-hitter on Wednesday. Kyle Kessner gave up just one earned run in five innings but lost on Thursday. Josh Midgley gave up just three hits and earned his first varsity win on Friday. If we pitch like we did down there we will be in good shape. We don’t expect to score 15 runs each game.”
It would not be surprising if the Cardinals only score 15 runs combined against four very good teams this week. Canfield plays Salem, Howland, Niles and Lakeview this week with the Howland and Niles games counting towards the All American Red Tier standings. One may think that four difficult tilts one week after a long trip and full schedule of games may be brutal, but Koenig sees things differently.
“It’s good to play that many games,” the coach theorized. “We will be able to cure the mistakes we made Monday and Tuesday on Wednesday and cure the mistakes we made Thursday and Friday on Saturday. Hopefully we can smooth some things out this week.”