The Stanislaus Cardinals 15-year-old Babe Ruth team capped off a winning season in the District finale by playing in the big game, but unfortunately, the team was not nearly perfect enough to surpass the San Benito squad as they fell 4-2 in Sunday at Modesto Christian.
“I am very proud of them and their effort and attitudes and it’s a great bunch of kids, I had an awesome time coaching them and being able to be around them,” said Cardinals head coach Sam Nichols.
The Cardinals won two straight games leading to the title game, beating out Lodi in a tight 2-1 ball game the previous night on Saturday but when the grand finale presented itself, the Cardinals just couldn’t close it out.
Although the regular season provided a winning record of 13 wins and only three losses, head coach Nichols was looking for more than that.
“I had expectations to win Section and go to State. I am proud of the effort, but it didn’t meet the goals and expectations,” Nichols said. “Our goals were to win the District tournament but I speak for not only myself for our entire team that it’s a bit disappointing because a successful year was to get out of District. But we had fun.”
In Saturday’s semifinal contest against Lodi, the Cardinals were put to the test once again as the entire game was nearly a stalemate with the score tied at 1-1 heading into the sixth.
Finally in the bottom half of the sixth, the Cardinals were able to land runners on second and third and Tre Nichols smacked in the game winning RBI.
“It was pretty close, the entire game our pitching and defense was amazing,” said Nichols.
Tyler Shafer pitched five scoreless innings as he kept the Lodi bats off balance.
Damon Treadwell of Turlock High then came in to relieve Shafer and close out the final two innings en route to the game clincher and a berth into the big show.
The Cardinal 15s met San Benito’s Babe Ruth team in the final in a tight contest that tested both squads’ resilience late in the game.
Pitman’s Dylan Roberts started the game on the mound for the Cardinals and lasted six and 1/3 innings.
“He [Roberts] did a great job throwing strikes, but plays weren’t made when we needed them,” Nichols said.
Stanislaus jumped out to an early 2-0 lead until the sixth inning, when a couple of costly errors and miscues led to the tying scores to make it 2-2.
“We wouldn’t let down, had some errors and the errors were tough plays that had to be handled with perfection and it was just one of those things,” Nichols said about the errors in the final. “The kids obviously wanted to win and gave it their all and that’s baseball; it’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Two more runs were added in the seventh after more errors, which made the score 4-2.
The Cardinals found themselves with an opportunity to rally in the bottom half of the seventh with two runners on and no outs but the team did not manage to score and was sent home.
“We couldn’t get out of it. They had a good pitcher who threw hard and strikes and they just beat us,” Nichols added. “They are a very good team.”