One of the biggest concerns Canfield head baseball coach Matt Koenig had entering the 2011 season was the inexperience of his pitching staff.
If the results from the early part of this season are any indication then coach Koenig should stop worrying. After two games, Canfield is 2-0 and it has its pitching staff to thank. The Cardinals blanked both Hubbard and Lakeview much to the joy of their coach.
“We did not expect to not give up any runs over the first two games,” said Koenig after the win over Lakeview. “We scored runs, we played defense and we got great pitching.”
In the 12-0 whitewash of the Bulldogs on April 7, Canfield’s great pitching came off the arm of senior Josh Midgely who worked most of the mercy rule-shortened game giving up no runs. The only reason Midgely did not throw a complete game was a matter of mathematics.
“I felt bad taking (Midgley) out,” said Koenig, “but we knew it would be only a five-inning game and we wanted to save his innings. It’s hard to get guys innings when you play once a week. (Midgley) threw a gem.”
Joining the senior in that gem was Tyler Rhoads who ate up the inning that Midgley left on the table. Combined, the two Canfield kids let Lakeview collect just two hits all game. Speaking of two hits, that is the exact total that Ben Angelo, Brad Smith, Joe Tuchek and Anthony Ross all picked up for Canfield last Thursday afternoon. Ross added three RBIs to his hit total, Angelo and Smith each knocked in two runs while Tuchek tallied one RBI. The Cardinals ended the afternoon with 14 hits as a team and put the game out of reach with seven runs over the first two innings. Perhaps the early outburst by the Cardinals was due to a little bit of pent up energy. Due to the incredibly obnoxious early spring Ohio weather, Canfield had a week and a half between their opening 9-0 win over Hubbard on March 29 and its victory over Lakeview.
“The guys were anxious to get out on the field,” said Koenig sounding a little restless himself. “We used the gym enough. It’s been frustrating.”
It was not frustrating for Koenig to watch senior Jared Bettura bewilder Hubbard in the season lid lifter. Bettura blanked the Eagles on four hits in his four innings of work. Halting Hubbard over the final three innings were Michael Wittman and Tony Mehle. The Cards got all the runs they really needed in the top of the first inning when they pushed three runs across the plate. Tim Cheslik hit a triple and Smith smacked a double for the victors.
Naturally, when the temperature zoomed into the 70s this past weekend, Canfield was idle. If the climate continued to climb upward then Koenig’s kids would be able to play Salem on April 11, Howland on April 12, Niles on April 14 and Fitch on April 15. The games against the Tigers and the Red Dragons represented Canfield’s first two battles inside the All American Conference Red Tier. That is why Koenig was holding those two tilts in high regards and was looking for ways to keep his boys sharp in case the weather took another turn for the worse.
“Those are two big league games,” said the coach. “All we can do is keep the pitchers throwing to live hitters. Hopefully we can continue to improve as a team.”
Koenig also hopes his team gets enough live action in before it heads down to Myrtle Beach to play in an annual tournament. The coach fears that his Cards may be at a disadvantage when they arrive on the beach because the local schools will have already played an enormous amount of games.
“By the time we get down there those teams are in their tournaments,” Koenig explained. “They all will have had over 20 games in.”
Of course, with the way the Cardinals’ hurlers have been slinging zeroes early this season, all the batting practice in the world may not even help opposing teams dent the scoreboard against them.