Canfield's baseball team came home from Myrtle Beach last week ready to take charge of the All American Conference.
Despite a subpar showing at the Mingo Bay Classic that saw the local kids finish 2-3, the Cardinals were pumped to face off with much more familiar foes. The Cardinals first two games on customary grounds were against arch nemesis Austintown Fitch. The two rivals played a home-in-home series April 21 and 23 and they each won on the other school's turf. Canfield beat the Falcons 4-3 in the first game and Fitch came back two days later and prevailed 8-3.
The Cardinals came out smoking in the top of the first of Fitch's home opener. Although Falcon Nation was primed to celebrate their heroes, the Cardinals kicked off the contest with four runs subsequently quieting the crowd down. Alec Buchenic had an RBI single in the first frame. That safety preceded a bases loaded walk that forced home another run. A two-run single by Nick Luchansky would cap Canfield's first inning uprising. Fitch would load the bases in the bottom of the first against Canfield starter Jimmy Leone, but a little leather stopped the Falcons cold. First baseman Alec Hammond made a sensational diving catch of a line drive and he turned that stab into a double play ending Fitch's threat and keeping the game 4-0 Canfield. Leone was aided by more great defense in the bottom of the fifth frame. Up 4-3, Canfield centerfielder Colton Crissman fielded a hit and threw a perfect strike to nab a Fitch runner trying to score the tying run at home plate. The Falcons tried one more time to send their fans home happy in the last of the seventh, but were once again thwarted by the Cardinals. After Fitch's first two hitters reached base, three consecutive fly outs put Canfield in the win column. Joe Billec preserved the win for Leone by pitching the seventh inning. Leone worked the first six to get the victory.
Things were reversed when the Falcons paid Canfield a visit on Wednesday. Fitch scored a pair of runs in the second, sixth and seventh innings to pick up the road win. Down 4-0, Canfield would score three times in the bottom of the third. Hammond hit a two-run single to aid in the third inning rally. Unfortunately, Canfield could not score the rest of the game. Hammond gave up five earned runs on five hits to suffer the loss.
On April 26, Canfield stepped outside the All American Conference to travel to Federal League representative Massillon Jackson. The Polar Bears bumped off Canfield 5-3. Jackson jumped on Canfield starter Joey Machuga scoring runs in each of the first three frames. Two of those runs came in the bottom of the first as an answer to the run the Cardinals captured in their half inning. Canfield would corral two more tallies to pull to within 4-3 after four, but an insurance run in the home half of the sixth secured the victory for the Polar Bears. Machuga was tagged with the loss for the locals.
Last week a scheduled game between Canfield and West Branch was moved to May 9 and a showdown between the Cards and Poland was washed out to end last week.
Highlighting this week's slate of contests for Canfield is a home-in-home with Howland. With a 1-2 conference record the Cardinals could use a couple wins over the Tigers to keep their championship hopes alive.