The St. Albert bantam AAA Cardinals dropped their first game of the regular season against the Spruce Grove White Sox on Monday night.
The 7-0 defeat came on the heels of a 14-4 victory over Red Deer on Sunday. The Red Birds are 5-1 on the season.
Spruce Grove was led by a dominant performance on the mound by Logan Seifrit, who opened the game with two strikeouts in the first inning en route to a seven-strikeout, two-walk performance in 6 1/3rd innings of play.
Matthew Reiniger started the game for St. Albert on the bump as the Cardinal pitchers combined for three walks against White Sox bats that didn't allow a strikeout.
St. Albert managed three hits to the Sox 11.
“They had their ace out there and he was throwing pretty hard,” said Marcus Blair. “He was good all game. We did pretty decent hitting the ball against him but got kind of lucky, we didn't hit the gaps enough.
“We need to adapt more on hitting and get used to hitting that kind of speed, but I think we did a pretty good job making contact against him considering it was our first time against somebody that fast.”
“Well, obviously it was a dominating pitching performance,” added head coach Greg Reiniger. “The kid can play. That's the first time we've seen anybody that throws that hard this year. Second half of the game we got on the ball a bit, but you have to tip your cap to them.”
Spruce Grove jumped on the bats early, with Seifrit performing well with the stick as he knocked a triple to bring in Jordan Kull. Seifrit later reached on an errant throw.
The Sox padded the lead with four more runs in the third, Knull, Seifrit, Riley Ross and Keith Wilson with the RBIs. Steven Siffledeen added one more RBI in the sixth to close out the scoring.
The loss isn't something that Reiniger wanted to sit heavily on the Cardinals as they prepare for their annual Early Bird tournament this weekend.
“The fact is that it's early. It really wasn't that important a game. We just wanted to get the guys to feel good but not be satisfied. We knew we weren't going to go undefeated, and every time Logan throws, they have a chance to win. He was fresh and ready to go and he stuck it in our ear.”
St. Albert will be competing in pool A against Okotoks and Sherwood Park as each squad will get one game each against their two pool opponents to determine placement for the elimination round. St. Albert faces Sherwood Park first on Friday at 6 p.m. and Okotoks on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., both games at Legion Field.
“We have lots of mental work, getting ourselves mentally prepared for the game,” said Blair when asked about what the Cardinals will need to do to be successful this weekend. “We have to work on hitting more and getting our hands through fast.”
“It's an early-year tournament, but we have to get some guys some innings,” added Reiniger, somewhat disappointed that only teams in the bantam Norwest League will participate. “It's an opportunity for us to get guys in that haven't thrown as much. We have a luxury that we have lots of arms, but we want to be competitive too. Once we get into June or July we'll shorten the bench a bit, and it's still a little cool so we want to be safe.”
The Red Birds will get some help this weekend as St. Albert product and former Sox catcher Nolan Laderoute will be joining the team and allowing current primary catcher Nolan Werre an opportunity to pitch. With a back injury sidelining Layne Viverios, Werre has been forced to be the main guy behind the plate, when he'd prefer to pitch.
Reiniger said he isn't going to be worried about pitching in this weekend's tournament, remarking that there have been only been a couple of times where his throwers’ performances haven't been where he needed them to be.