Despite watching his team split four games at the Mingo Bay Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., last week, Canfield head baseball coach Matt Koenig was still in a positive mood as his team was about to embark on a week of local battles.
"We competed hard down there," said Koenig over the weekend. "The trip is always successful no matter how many games you win. Every team we played had 20 games in already and was about to play their tournaments. They were all veteran clubs."
The most veteran club Canfield encountered was the host team Waccamaw on April 10. Canfield clipped those kids 2-1 thanks to a game-winning RBI from Tony Mehle and some solid pitching by Tylor Rhoads.
"Rhoads pitched seven strong innings," Koenig mentioned. "Then Mehle came up with a big hit for us."
Also coming up big was Canfield's defense, which did all it could to make Rhoads' one-run gem hold up.
"We had some great play defensively," Koenig said excitedly. "I'm extremely proud. (Waccamaw) is a very good team. We've played them every year so we have an intense little rivalry with them. There was tension on every pitch. It was a tournament-like atmosphere."
Unfortunately, the Cardinals could only capture one more win in the tournament at Myrtle Beach, but at least it came in grand fashion. Canfield was able to club Pikeview 10-0 on April 11 because it got quality play on both sides of the field.
"I was happy with the pitching and offense in this game," said a pleased Koenig.
Derek Turocy handled the pitching side for the Cardinals by tossing a two-hit shutout against Pikeview under some trying conditions.
"Turocy pitched a great game," Koenig exclaimed. "It was a hard game to play because we had to play an afternoon game one day after playing that tough night game the night before."
The Cardinals' two losses in Myrtle Beach were 5-4 to Williamsburg Academy on April 9 and 14-5 to Atlantic Shores Christian School on April 12. Although the tournament started and finished with setbacks, Coach Koenig sounded philosophical when listing the positive events from the trip to the south.
"First off, playing in a tournament like this against such good teams will make us better come (state) tournament time," explained Koenig. "Playing four or five days in a row was good for us. There was a lot of team bonding on the 12-hour bus trip. And we played experienced teams who were all playing for something."
Now the Cardinals will really have something to play for as the season hits its home stretch. Canfield has a string of challenging games this week and those started with a home-in-home series with Poland on Monday and Tuesday. Koenig was cognizant that the Bulldogs are always a tough bunch to beat and have been playing beautiful baseball lately.
"(Poland) beat Fitch two games then played well on a trip to Florida so they are playing pretty well right now," said Koenig on the eve of the game. "We haven't had any back-to-back (conference) games yet. It will be difficult for us after such a long trip."
Also difficult will be a game at Beaver Local on Thursday and a game versus Division I representative Kenston on Saturday. Making that match with Kenston a real keeper is that it will take place at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
"We're excited for the game at Progressive Field because we tried to play there a couple times last year but it kept getting rained out," Koenig said.
There was no rain around when Koenig's club played in South Carolina however.
"We did not see a cloud," said Koenig chuckling.
Hopefully for Koenig and his kids, the rest of their season is filled with vibrant sunshine as well both in the sky and on the field.