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Cardinals show strong start to season

April 4, 2012
By Nik Zirounis , Town Crier correspondent

A double-header sweep at West Branch on the last day of March capped an opening week for Canfield's baseball team that was shorter than expected.

Canfield's game at Jefferson on March 29 was suspended in the seventh inning due to darkness. A continuation of that contest will probably not be played. Just because that match was left in the dark it doesn't mean that the Cardinals' 2012 season will not be enlightening. Thanks to the 8-1 and 6-1 whacking of the Warriors, the Cardinals stand 3-0 on the new campaign.

Canfield got the season started by clobbering Lakeview 7-0 on March 27 in a game that was basically over before it ever really started. The Cardinals came out of the gates swinging and scored five runs in the season's first inning. After tacking on a run in the top of the second, Canfield cruised to a 1-0 start.

"We were fired up to get the season started off on the right foot," said head coach Matt Koenig excitedly. "We capitalized on some walks by (Jefferson's) pitcher in the first inning. (Getting that first win) was a huge plus for us."

Tyler Rhoads, Derek Turocy and Michael Ross all spanked doubles in the win. Besides banging out two-baggers, another thing the Cardinals did offensively was move swiftly around the bases.

"We were pretty aggressive on the bases," Koenig said happily. "We stayed aggressive at the plate too. The guys swung the bats well."

With hitting and running checked off Koenig's list, he next concentrated on the team's pitching. After one game, the Cards were aces on the mound. Tony Mehle worked six innings in the season opener and scattered five hits while striking out seven. He was relieved in the final inning by Tony Valesquez who struck out two-thirds of the batters he faced.

"It was a great start for them," Koenig noted. "Mehle threw only 74 pitches and that's important because we never let kids throw too many innings early. We want them to build up to 100 pitches."

Turocy headed to the hill in the opener at West Branch and worked effectively over five frames. The Warriors' hitters obliged by only picking up four hits on the day and their defense was just as generous making seven errors. Those miscues enabled Canfield to score four runs in the first inning and three more in the fourth to put the game away. In the nightcap, Canfield collected a dozen hits, which were more than enough for starting pitcher Alec Buchenic who only gave up two of his own to earn his first win.

Although the Cardinals commenced the year in a positive way, there are still some improvements that Coach Koenig would like to see from his club. This season is so early which means the Cardinals are still a work in progress.

"We still have some question marks with our pitching and our batting order," said Koenig.

Some of those questions are evident because the Coach has so many players to choose from.

"We would still like to figure out who's on the varsity consistently," explained Koenig. "We have some kids who are bouncing between JV and varsity. We are such a deep team. We have some sophomores who can contribute right now and that is making good competition between the sophomores and the upperclassmen."

The coach acknowledged that a lot of the roster should settle itself soon especially since there are a slew of games set on this week's schedule. Canfield had to play games on Wednesday and Thursday this week then board the bus for a trip to Myrtle Beach to play in the annual Mingo Bay Classic on Good Friday. Coach Koenig hopes that Friday will not be the only day that is good for his group down south.

"It will be a great experience for us," he said with anticipation. "We will play games against teams that have already played about 20 games this year and are nearing their tournaments. We can't wait and are looking forward to it."



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