The Abbotsford Cardinals met a bitter demise at the hands of their rivals, the Okanagan Athletics.
The fifth-place Cards had high hopes heading into a best-of-three B.C. Premier Baseball League playoff series on the weekend, but the fourth-place A’s swept them in two straight games on Saturday, 8-7 and 11-0.
The defeat was difficult to digest for Cardinals head coach Corey Eckstein, in part because his club doesn’t have a lot of love for the A’s. The two teams engaged in a heated regular-season series two weeks ago that featured four bench-clearing incidents.
“It’s tough to swallow,” Eckstein said. “It’s tough losing to a team that you just can’t respect, and it was tough to see our senior guys walk away in tears after the game.
“But you tip your caps to them – they swung the bats better than we did at the end of the day.”
In the opener, the Athletics built a 7-2 lead through five innings, but the Cards battled back to tie. Tyler Krahn’s two-run single capped a four-run outburst in the sixth inning, and after loading the bases in the seventh, Zach Cardoso was hit by a pitch to push Adam Revel across and knot the score 7-7.
But in the bottom of the inning, the A’s loaded the bases themselves, and James Ward smacked a walk-off single to give the Okanagan squad a 1-0 lead in the series.
Game 2 was all A’s, and ended after just five innings via the mercy rule. The BCPBL’s second-most prolific offence rocked Abbotsford pitching to the tune of 16 hits, highlighted by a grand slam by Nathan Ackerman in the top of the fifth. The Cards mustered just four hits against A’s starter Dillon Kakoshke – three of them by Cardoso.
“I’ve been working with these players since they were nine years old, and I really wanted to see them walk away on top,” Eckstein said. “I’ve got to give them credit – they battled back in the first game when they were down, showed a lot of heart and pride. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way we had hoped.”
JUNIOR CARDS POISED FOR PLAYOFFS
The Junior Cardinals’ season is still ongoing, and they split a doubleheader on the road against the Whalley Junior Chiefs on Sunday.
The Chiefs won an extra-innings thriller in the opener. Abbotsford’s Josh Harder drove in Joel VanEe to give the visitors a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth, but Whalley tallied twice in the bottom of the inning to steal a 6-5 victory.
The Junior Cards bounced back with a 13-0 mercy-rule win. Leadoff man VanEe went 4-for-4 at the plate with four runs scored to ignite the offence, and Liam Kano-McGregor smacked a bases-loaded triple. Pitcher Emilio Foden struck out six over five shutout innings.
The Junior Cards (25-17, third in the BCJPBL) wrap up the regular season with a pair of home games this week – Wednesday against the White Rock Junior Tritons, and Thursday against the North Shore Junior Twins. Both games begin at 7 p.m. at DeLair Park.