The St. Albert Early Bird Tournament was cancelled, but that didn't stop some of the Cardinals' teams from playing some ball.
The midget AA Cardinals met up with a team from Saskatoon in a doubleheader Sunday. Saskatoon had already made the trip to St. Albert before it was announced on Friday that the tournament was cancelled because of the wet field conditions at Legion Memorial Park. The Cardinals had no problems with the visitors, trouncing them 11-1 in five innings and 16-5 in seven innings.
"It was definitely disappointing [having the tournament cancelled]," said Cardinals coach Keaton Cruthers. "The weather seems to be bad this weekend all the time. I don't know what to do about it. It always sucks, especially when you're hosting a tournament. It's always fun to play. We're just glad Saskatoon stuck around to play those two games with us."
On Victoria Day, the Cardinals squared off against the Stony Plain Royals in a make-up of a previously rained out league game. It was a back-and-forth affair with the Cardinals eventually coming out on top 15-10 on the warmest day of the long weekend. The win moved St. Albert's league record to 4-2 early in the season.
Down 3-2 in the bottom of the third, the Red Birds took advantage of an RBI double from Joel Baumann. Later, after the Royals missed an opportunity to catch a foul ball that landed between the third-baseman and the catcher, Lee Spicer hit a two-RBI single that put the Cards up 6-3. They'd finish the inning leading 7-3. In the top of the fourth, though, the Royals would jump ahead 8-7.
Fourth-year midget Devin King, who started the game on the mound for the Cardinals, took matters into his own hands in the bottom of the fourth inning with a memorable at-bat. Royals' pitcher James Duke was struggling with his control and threw three straight balls to King. With the fourth pitch, Duke threw a ball that appeared low a little away, but it was a called strike by the home-plate umpire. King had already thrown his bat to the ground and was jogging to first with an assumed walk, while Cruthers was in disbelief and said, "That's a strike? That was in the dirt."
However, King came back to the batter's box with the count 3-1 and jacked the next pitch over the left-field wall.
"I was going to just take the walk, but it showed up for a called strike and we got a three-run home run so it doesn't really matter," King said. "It just helped out with the runs."
Ironically, the last time King hit a "home run" was last week against the same team, except on that occasion, it was called foul by the umpire, but King said he and everyone else thought it was fair.
Baumann batted in three more insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to bring the Cardinals total to 15 and Felix Auger came in to close out the game on the mound, pitching two innings and surrendering just one hit.
This is Cruthers' first season coaching the Cardinals. He just finished playing midget ball with the Cardinals in 2008 and last month finished his second year at the University of Calgary. He said he's slowly starting to get into the groove of coaching.
"I'm still learning stuff every game," he said. "I've got some pretty good help with my assistant coach [Nolan Cherniwchan]. "
Cruthers will soon be joined by his former midget teammate Jeremy Goodall, who is finishing up his second year at Muscatine Community College in Iowa.
The Cardinals visited the Royals in Stony Plain Tuesday. The result was not available for press time.
Bantams battle back
At the same time as the midget Cardinals and Royals were playing on Monday, the bantam AAA Cardinals were playing the SEEBA Cardinals of Edmonton in an exhibition game. St. Albert won 5-3 in come-from-behind fashion.
"We seem to get off to slow starts and then decide it's time to get going," said coach Dave Maguire. "We've played SEEBA now at least four times and every game has been close. They've got a good team and we're going to have to be on our 'A' game any time we play them."
Cam Vilcsak got the start on the mound for St. Albert, but because it was only an exhibition game, Maguire decided to have four players pitch to get them some more experience, regardless of how they performed. Vilcsak threw for two innings, before making way for Marcus Blair, Ryan Anderson and Sean Poulin.
Matt Brisson (two), Jay Florkevich, Vilcsak and Anderson drove in St. Albert's runs.
The Cardinals are 6-0 on the season, but all games played until Friday are included in the "Developmental" part of the schedule. The games beginning on the weekend will determine the standings for provincials. The top five will go to tier one provincials, while the bottom four will go to tier two.