The AA Midget Comox Valley Cardinals captured championship honours at the eight-team Ross Memorial baseball tournament on the May long weekend in Newtwon.
The Red Birds kicked it off on Saturday against the Ladner Black Sox. Starter Dustin Raume pitched a good game, but the Cardinal defence was not at its best. The locals put up a good fight fell 8-7 in a highly entertaining game. The offence was led by Brad Teasdale with three hits including a double, Bryce Stromquist with two hits, Haydyn Kierstead with a double, and a home run by Daisuke Takeshi.
Game two on Sunday morning had the Cardinals facing the BC Selects girls’ team. A select group from all over the province, they compete across the country in quest of the national championship at the end of the summer.
The Selects were accompanied by two midget players from Aldergrove to help out with pitching. After starter Teasdale struggled to find the strike zone early, Carter Chard-Hill and Ben Viglasi combined to shut down the Selects. Stellar defence from Darrin Lessard and Scott Stevens and hits from Teasdale, Stromquist, Kierstead and Keegan Chard-Hill solidified a 4-2 win.
Playing the host Newton A’s in the second game of the day, with the advantage of controlling their own destiny on taking them to Monday’s playoffs, the Cardinals ran into a motivated local squad that held them to a couple of runs.
Starter Kierstead pitched four strong innings before running into trouble, and giving way to Stromquist to finish. The Comox Valley crew just couldn’t generate any offence and fell 5-2.
The Cardinals managed to squeeze into the playoffs on run differential as three teams ended up at 1-2, with Ladner at 3-0.
In the semifinal Monday morning, the local boys faced the undefeated Whalley Warriors who finished first in pool A. This was a pitcher’s duel, as both starters were incredible. Stromquist was exceptional, and was helped with some outstanding defensive play.
Whalley took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of three, and it stood up until the top of five, when Comox started to touch up the Whalley starter. The game went to the seventh tied 1-1. In the top half, Cardinal lead-off hitter Takeshi drew a walk and was bunted to second, a throwing error by the first baseman allowed him to take third, where he came into score on a hit from Stromquist.
The Cardinals generated another run to take a 3-1 lead into the bottom of seven. Reliever Viglasi came in and did a great job shutting down Whalley and securing a 3-1 victory, in an exceptionally well-played game.
A trip to the final was earned versus the undefeated Ladner team that they lost to in the opener.
The final, against the undefeated Ladner team they lost to in the opener, was worth the price of admission times two. The Cards jumped out to a 3-0 lead early, only to have Ladner creep back in. The Cardinals took a 6-3 lead on the backs of some large hits: home runs from Stromquist, Teasdale and a double from Raume.
They carried this lead into the seventh, where the drama began. Ladner started to come back with some timely hitting, and with one out and a runner on first had the game tied up. Starter Teasdale, and relievers Jamie Callaghan and Ben Viglasi, did all they could to keep it that way.
A ground ball to second baseman Kierstead had double play written all over it, when the Ladner runner put his head down and blasted through the Cardinal player as he was applying the tag and preparing the throw to first. Things got fairly heated and order needed to be restored. When the dust had cleared the umpires called the runner out and ejected him from the game, and also called out the runner going to first on the premise that the play would have been made.
Score going into the bottom of seven was 6-6.
Cardinal leadoff hitter K. Chard-Hill drew a walk, but two fielder’s choice ground balls later, Carter Chard-Hill stood at first base. With two out and a runner on first, Alex Tait came to the plate looking for his first hit of the weekend. He hit a line drive down the left field line that eluded the out-stretched glove of the fielder. C. Chard-Hill was waved around third and scored on a true walk off, giving the Cardinals a 7-6 victory and the tournament championship.
Overall a real team victory with contributions from everyone, including the parents that made the trip over to cheer the boys on, and helped with scorekeeping and pitch counts.