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Cardinals bats unload in Moose Jaw

St. Albert's midget AAA Cardinals captured their first tournament trophy of 2009 in Moose Jaw over the May long weekend thanks to some of their strongest pitching all season.

St. Albert's midget AAA Cardinals captured their first tournament trophy of 2009 in Moose Jaw over the May long weekend thanks to some of their strongest pitching all season.

The Red Birds ran the table with a 6-0 record, scoring 53 runs while only giving up five.

During round robin play, St. Albert decimated Unity 11-2 with Taylor Wiebe and Cam Purych dominating the mound.

Ethan Elias followed up the win for the Cardinals with a complete game as he shut out the host Moose Jaw Canucks 7-0.

On Sunday, Elias showed he can swing the stick too as he cranked a homerun against the Carrot River Imperials. Not to be outdone, Scott Gerun hit a grand slam as McLean Cruthers pitched a complete game over five innings. The tilt was called due to run differential at 18-0.

“The big thing for us was how well we pitched,” said head coach Rob Boik. “Absolutely everyone had an outstanding outing on the mound. The other teams we played weren't able to really get anything going against us. So it really made it a lot easier on our defence.”

In the final game of round robin play against the Regina Wolfpack, St. Albert got their third complete game in the hands of Nathan Coffin in a 12-2 effort that propelled the Red Birds to semi-final action.

“A month into the season, being outdoors now, guys are starting to feel more comfortable in the field,” Boik said. “Everyone's starting to get a better sense of what their role is on the team. Guys are starting to buy in to what myself and Justin Dickson have been trying to get across to them all season long. You get the feeling things are starting to click a little more.”

Scott Gerun took the mound in the semis against the Regina Athletics, allowing just one hit and one unearned run in his complete game effort. A much tighter affair, the Athletics went ahead 1-0 early on. Gerun tied the game with an RBI double and Matt Biollo drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth to give St. Albert a 2-1 lead. Gerun preserved the win with two more scoreless innings on the mound.

“[We needed to] have more quality at-bats,” said Boik. “At the plate early on I think we were swinging at too many pitches out of the strike zone, making it too easy on the other teams’ pitchers. We've been throwing a lot more strikes as a staff and have really cut down the number of walks to as close to zero as possible.”

The Red Birds faced the Estevan Blazers in the championship game and got another dominating performance on the mound. St. Albert scored three runs in the top of the first and Keegan Hucul shut the door, throwing the Cardinals' fifth complete game of the tournament. He got a little extra help in the seventh as a drive to left field nearly hit the gap, but Nathan Coffin chased the ball down and made the catch to seal the victory.

Heading into play this weekend, Boik was obviously pleased with the Cardinals’ effort. But in order to make it to the unspoken goal of national champions, the head coach says there are a lot of little details that still need fixing.

“We're still working on a lot of little things — pickoffs to first and second base, bunt defence. Just a lot of little position specifics that we kind of got exposed a few weeks ago by Okotoks Red. They were more prepared than we were. We're trying to firm up those things and get our defence stuff down a lot better, holding runners especially. We're giving up far too many stolen bases this year.”