The Cardinals started their 2017 season off by hitting the road and going down to Florida to play 5 games against some talented NCJAA Division I teams and one DII opponent. The first was a double header against Seminole State College. In a competitive game the boys were unlucky to lose 3-2 to the Raiders. Carl Colbert Jr has a solid game getting a run and 2 hits from 4 at bats also picking up 2 RBI's. 3rd baseman, Matt Thomas provided the second run as the Cardinals went out into an early lead. However after a cagey 3rd inning Seminole State got the equalizing and go ahead runs in the 4th and 5th. The Cardinals went in to the second game against the Raiders in good spirits but came out on the wrong end of a 10-5 defeat. A strong 2nd inning from Seminole State set the tone of the game as the Cards were down by 7 runs at the start of the 3rd inning. There was a spirited fight back in the 6th but it was too little too late for the boys in the end. Ed Nottingham's performance is worth a mention as the sophomore went 2 for 4 at the plate notching 2 runs and 2 RBI's.
Generally things have to get worse before they can get better and the Cardinals learned this when they played their third game of the tour against Pasco-Hernando State College. The lads went down 15-3 to Pasco- Hernando and runs from Dalton Swanger, Matt Sheppard and Carson Pinkney were the only real highlights for the Cardinals. Moving swiftly on, the lads were in action again the next day against the College of Central Florida. This was a much more competitive game and thrilled until the very end. The game began with Central Florida scoring one run the first inning and Catonsville quickly responded with a run of their own in the second inning. The next inning is where things really stepped up a gear. Central Florida came out swinging and notched an impressive 6 runs during their third inning. Runs were traded in the fourth and the Cards were staring down a 6 point deficit by the start of the 8th inning. However, Catonsville turned on the class and racked up 6 runs in the next two innings (4 in the 8th and 2 in the 9th). This forced the game into a 10th inning and the Cardinals took full advantage. One solo run in the 10th inning meant Catonsville edged out their Floridian competition and ended a nail biter in style. A big game from 1st baseman, Jordan Sanders saw the sophomore score 4 runs and went 3 for 4 at the plate to help the Cards to victory. Sophomore Avery Rosania contributed with a 2 for 4 performance at the plate and a RBI and Run, while fellow sophomore Matt Thomas went 2 for 5 at the plate with 2 RBI's and a run scored.
About half way through the trip the flu spread among the team and Head Coach Dan Blue struggled to keep enough guys healthy to finish out the trip. Their double header against Daytona State College was canceled due to weather but Indian River State stepped up so the guys could play and the team followed the following day against Eastern Florida State. Unfortunately, the boys lost both games, losing 4-1 in the first against the Pioneers and then 8-2 in the second against the Titans. Nick Sprenkle got the Cardinals' only run in the penultimate game then Brady Adam joined Carl Colbert Jr. on the score sheet for the final game of the tour. The Cards managed to get a fair few hits against Eastern Florida but couldn't turn those hits into runs.
When the Cardinals touched back down in Catonsville they had a point to prove and were eager to get some good results against their first opponents, Sussex Community College. The first of the three game series with Sussex was a tight affair. The game ended 2-1 in 9 hard fought innings. The Cards went down by a run in the third inning and wouldn't register a run until the 7th. After tying things up in the 7th the Cards went ahead in the 8th and kept hold of the lead until the final pitch. Carl Colbert (2 for 4 with an RBI), Manny Jimenez (2 for 4 with a run scored), Matt Thomas (1 for 3 with a RBI), and Avery Rosania (1 for 3 with a run scored) highlighted the Cardinals offensive efforts. The game was full of hits as 7 different Cardinals registered a hit but in a game of few runs it was important the defense played well. Pitchers Adam and Swanger had 13 strikeouts between them so it was clear the defense turned up prepared to grind out a win.
TH next day Sussex was back for a double header match up against Catonsville. Game two did not disappoint as it was equally as close fought. The Cardinals raced off to a 4 run lead in the 1st inning. Sussex's 2 runs in the 2nd and 4th inning kept the game close and exciting, but the Cardinals answered with 2 of their own runs in the bottom of the 4th to make it a 6-4 game. A run for Sussex in the 5th closed the score to a run but Catonsville notched a run in the 6th to help secure their victory and helped them hold on after a 7th inning run scored by Sussex. Colbert and Adam were again stand out performers with multi hit efforts with second baseman Joseph Malagari joining in on the multi hit fun. The Cardinals were not leaving any doubt in their last game in the series against Sussex. The Cardinals strolled home 12-2 in this real team effort as 4 players chipped in with 2 runs each. Adam, Thomas, Nottingham, and Sanders all scored twice with Sanders and Adam getting 5 RBI's and 3 RBI's respectively.
In the Cardinals next game they welcomed Cecil College to Catonsville. The lads ultimately lost the game but it was a valiant performance which only went 8 innings due to darkness. The score was tied at 2 runs a piece in the 3rd inning and 10 runs were split evenly going into the 8th. This is where Cecil kicked on and they scored 3 runs with no reply from the Cards to break the tie and win the game. Solid games from Colbert and Nottingham as they both contributed 2 runs each but unfortunately it wasn't enough to get the result.
Their first conference away game of the season beckoned and the boys traveled up to Prince George's Community College to play the Owls. In what can only be described as a thriller the two teams tied 10-10. The game was stooped after 9 innings due to darkness. The Four Horsemen of the Run-pocalypse, Carl Colbert Jr, Brady Adam, Ed Nottingham and Jordan Sanders all scored at least two runs for the second time this year, with Colbert bagging a hat trick of runs. In addition to the others sophomore catcher, Bud Weismore got his first run of the season. The game was even throughout with a couple of ebbs and flows but no team really opened up a significant lead over the other.
The tail end of winter was not quite finished which affected some games, but the guys are back on the field again soon as they get into the bulk of their conference season.
Article by Lyndon Thompson