For the first time in nine years, the Stanislaus U18 Babe Ruth Cardinals will not be vying for the Central California State Tournament championship. After executing a comeback win in their opening game on Friday, the Cardinals were dealt back-to-back losses by Bullard on Saturday and Delano on Sunday and were unexpectedly eliminated from the tournament.
“Everybody was disappointed. We put a lot of hard work in during the summer to have a chance to win a state championship. To fall short so early in three close games is disappointing,” Head coach Bobby Swedberg said.
Saturday’s game against Bullard very nearly followed the same story line as Friday’s game, with the Cardinals searching for a comeback as they entered the seventh inning down 4-6. But after a Tristen Mero RBI double that crossed Dylan Roberts, the Cardinals were unable to prevent a 5-6 loss as they left the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second.
Though they lost, the Cardinals put in a good effort with Trevor Chaney and Mero both finishing two for four with a double and a RBI. Jacob Ahid also had a good game on Saturday, pitching 5 2/3 innings and allowing eight hits, six runs and three earned runs and striking out six batters.
“We tried to do the same thing again on Saturday, and we just fell a little bit short,” Swedberg said of the failed comeback.
The theme of Sunday’s game was also that of missed opportunities, thought the final score of 1-4 wasn’t indicative of that.
Delano scored four runs in the fourth inning on an error, a triple and a pair of base hits and allowed the Cardinal’s lone run on a pass ball in the fifth. But in the first, second and fourth innings, the Cardinals were in position to take leads as they left the innings with the bases loaded.
“We just weren’t able to get the ball in play…it ended up costing us the tournament,” Swedberg said. “We hit the ball hard but didn’t get the runs to show for it. With that many opportunities, and you aren’t’ able to capitalize, it definitely wears on you.”
Luckily for the Cardinals, they will still be competing in the upcoming Regional Tournament as hosts despite exiting the State Tournament with a record of 1-2.
“We’ll regroup and hopefully we can turn the page,” Swedberg said. “We just have to focus on moving forward and getting better in the next tournament.”
Regionals will be held from July 23-28 and will be played at Hilmar High.