With back to back losses against the Okotoks Red in Southern Alberta on Saturday, the St. Albert midget AAA Cardinals dropped to 3-3 on the regular season.
Okotoks took game one of the double-header 5-1 and game two 5-4.
Scott Gerun pitched 4 innings in game one, allowing five runs, seven hits and walking eight with three strikeouts. He also tallied the only RBI in the contest for the Cardinals. Taylor Wiebe closed out the pitching as the Red Birds managed only three official hits.
“We didn't play particularly bad in the first game,” said head coach Rob Boik. “Scott Gerun didn't have his best day on the mound for us. I'm not usually one to complain about the umpiring but it was very inconsistent with the strike zone. It was real hard for us to throw strikes with the umpiring that we had. It was the same for both teams, but it was very frustrating for everybody involved.”
Despite the three-hit statistic, Boik said the Cardinals were on top of the ball but couldn't find the gaps when they needed to, and also faced one of the more athletic fielding groups the team has battled so far.
“We hit the ball real well, [but that] didn't show up necessarily in the hit column for us. But it was one of those games where we hit the ball hard right at people and didn't have anything to show for it. Sometimes it's just the way it happens in baseball.”
Keegan Hucul earned the start in game two, recovering from a wrist injury that kept him sidelined last week. Hucul allowed two runs on four hits against 20 batters in four innings of play, striking out six and walking three.
McLean Cruthers pitched the remaining two Okotoks innings at-bat, allowing three runs on five hits, striking out one and walking two.
St. Albert had a stronger effort at the plate in game two, getting eight hits against the Okotoks pitching staff. But the Cardinals left too many runners stranded, according to Boik, while Okotoks was able to find the holes in St. Albert's defence.
“They made some plays when they had to in the field. They tracked some balls down pretty well in the outfield against us that typically would be safe, but they have some good athletes out there. That game could have went either way.”
“We just didn't get the big hit when we needed it at the end. Keegan Hucul pitched great for us. We had some more hits where we struck it right at people. We could have had more than the eight hits we had.”
“On the other end of things, they had some hits fall in for them, some bleeders and bloop singles. They were able to expose us a bit with the running game. They stole a lot of bases of us. If we can close up those holes a little better in the next month or two we'll be fine the rest of the way.”
It was the first full week with a modified infield. Boik shifted Jarret Klim at short and kept Kyle Gonzales and Ethan Elias at second. Boik is keeping patient with his team's defensive responsibility as he continues to play catch-up to get his players some repetitions in all aspects of the game.
Offensively, Boik says he has nothing to worry about.
“We hit the ball great every game we've played so far this season. I'm really impressed with the lineup we have. I thought the middle infield played quite well. Jarret's doing a really good job at short stop and making some really outstanding plays. I think because some guys need to pitch, there will always be some different faces, but for now it looks like Jarret's going to stick at shortstop for a while.”
“There's a lot of little things we need to work on. They were really taking advantage of some little things we weren't doing to shut them down. We're going to work on that in the next few weeks and go from there. Other teams have played maybe 25 games together where we have less than 10, and it showed.”