Too little offense, defense dooms Cardinals
After a long run, Medical Lake outfielder Tristen Keith tracked down this fly ball for an out last Friday against Freeman.
Too much rain, not enough runs, too little hitting and more than their share of errors.
That sums up the abbreviated baseball week for Medical Lake. The Cardinals went from challenging Freeman for a second consecutive Northeast A League title to now scrambling for playoff positioning as the season enters its final two weeks.
After rain washed out a Tuesday game at Newport, Medical Lake (7-5 NEA, 8-5 overall) faced off against Freeman (12-0, 12-1) losing a doubleheader 9-2 and 6-1 at Holliday Field. Entering the Friday games, the Cardinals had won five of their last six.
While five errors in each of the games certainly didn't help, stroking just 13 hits across the 14 innings in the pair of games added to the misery on a blustery day.
"Give Freeman credit, they're a good ball club," Cardinals' head coach Kerry Kelly said. "We knew going into it we had to pitch, play defense and hit the ball well to compete and we just fell a little short of that."
Freeman clung to a 3-0 lead and the Cardinals were in it until a 5-run sixth in the opener. "They capitalized on every opportunity we gave them," Kelly said.
Cory Wagner had the only multiple hit game in the opener, plus he put in six innings on the mound before being relieved by Dylan Rushfelt. "We hit the ball OK, we just didn't have the timely hitting, and couldn't find a way to string hits together," Kelly said.
In the second game, Medical Lake let some early opportunities slip away, including in the third inning where they got runners to second and third, but left them stranded. "I think we missed the opportunity to get some of those runs," Kelly said. "Both of their pitchers did a really good job, both of them threw complete games.
"That's baseball once in a while, you get the hitting, you get the defense sometimes when you need it, and then you don't," Kelly said. Wagner had three of the Cardinals five hits, all singles, in game two.
Roman Kissack started the game going four innings before being relieved by Breydon Hale in the fifth. The Scotties broke the game open with three runs in the fifth.
Despite the struggles, Kelly singled out his pitchers for their effort. "I think Roman (Kissack) and Cory (Wagner) really went out there and battled," Kelly said.
The Cards played a nonleague game at Reardan this past Tuesday and had a rescheduled single game at Newport Friday. They are home against Lakeside (7-5 NEA, 7-7 overall) for a doubleheader Saturday starting at 11. Medical Lake lost at Lakeside 5-3 April 16 and will be looking to earn tiebreakers against the Eagles.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.