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Pitching posing problems early for Cardinals

April 18, 2013
By Nik Zirounis , Town Crier correspondent

After completing a trip to Myrtle Beach to play in the annual Mingo Bay Tournament, the Canfield baseball team came back to take on its rivals from the All American Conference.

Canfield had a home-in-home series with conference favorite Howland on Monday, April 8. The final tallies from the series were mixed.

On Monday, the Cardinals surrendered three runs to the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth inning to lose 9-8 at Eastwood Field.

"We gave one away," said an upset Canfield head coach Matt Koenig shortly after the loss.

The Cards rebounded Tuesday by squeaking past the Tigers, 5-4 on Tuesday.

Not only did Koenig's club toss aside one win against Howland, but it also lost three out of four games at the Mingo Bay Tournament. The main culprit in Canfield's demise both here and down south was problematic pitching. That is a complete 180-degree turn from how coach Koenig thought his team would sling the ball before the season started.

"I thought we would not have any problems pitching," Koenig said, "but I was extremely mistaken. I thought it would be different."

Canfield's only win in Myrtle Beach was a 6-2 win over South Columbus of North Carolina on April 3. Although the pitching was OK in that outing, it was brutal the rest of the tournament especially out of the bullpen.

"We lost a lot of games in relief," said Koenig. "(In a Mingo Bay game played on Saturday), we gave up six runs in the bottom of the seventh."

Senior starter Tony Velasquez pitched magnificently most of that Saturday game, but was done in by the shoddy relief work.

"Tony Velasquez pitched a gem for six innings," Koenig bragged.

After the Cardinals relinquished the lead, they went back on top in the eighth only to lose the game on a pass ball in the bottom of the ninth. Losing in that fashion would not be possible, however, if Canfield's opponents did not get as many ducks on the pond.

"We are not throwing strikes," Koenig grumbled. "We are putting too many men on base and that is hurting us. We are putting a strain on our relievers."

Although coach Koenig did not paint the prettiest of pictures when discussing his team's mound work, not all of Canfield's pitching has been catastrophic so far. The coach did go on to afford kudos to a trio of hurlers.

"We have gotten quality out of Velasquez, Jimmy Leone and Colton Crissman," said Koenig positively. "Dan Brown was fantastic for three and a half innings of relief (versus Howland on Monday night)."

If the pitching can be straightened out then possibly the offense can find its rhythm as well. The Cards have not exactly looked like a potent bunch with the bats early on and their coach thinks he knows why.

"We need to get more aggressive offensively," Koenig explained. "We also need to build on some of these bad situations and continue to get better."

Things didn't get better as the Cardinals ended last week with a punishing 18-3 loss at the hands of Cleveland St. Ignatius.

Facing Fitch this week will hopefully helps the Redbirds find their rhythm. Also on the busy schedule were tilts with West Branch, Niles McKinley and Hudson.



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