Abbotsford Cardinals baserunner Coleton Besse dives back to first base to beat a pickoff throw on Sunday vs. the Parksville Royals.

Abbotsford Cardinals baserunner Coleton Besse dives back to first base to beat a pickoff throw on Sunday vs. the Parksville Royals.

Cardinals heat up, win four of five

The way the Abbotsford Cardinals' pitchers have been performing has put a smile on head coach Corey Eckstein's face.

Generating runs has been a struggle for the Abbotsford Cardinals of late, but the way their pitchers have been performing has put a smile on head coach Corey Eckstein‘s face.

The men on the mound powered the local B.C. Premier Baseball League squad to four wins in five games last week, thus strengthening their grip on a playoff spot.

“All our pitchers have been filling up the strike zone and giving us a chance to win,” Eckstein enthused. “They’ve been carrying us, along with our defence, all season.”

Daniel Koo got the Cards off on the right foot last week, striking out seven Vancouver Cannons batters over six innings in a 4-3 win on Tuesday.

Emilio Foden followed with a stellar performance vs. the North Delta Blue Jays on Saturday, registering five strikouts over seven innings in a 1-0 shutout victory.

In the back half of the doubleheader, Rajin Neger (5.1 innings, four strikeouts, one earned run allowed) helped the Cards complete the sweep with a 4-1 triumph.

Then on Sunday at DeLair Park, Jesse McGowen took his turn on the mound and powered the Abby club to a 6-2 win over the Parksville Royals.

The Royals snapped the Cards’ win streak in the final game of the weekend, winning the back half 5-3.

Liam Kano-McGregor, coming off an injury, has claimed the closer’s job, and he picked up three saves over the course of the week.

Offence has been a challenge for the Cards all season long, even moreso of late after centre fielder Kurtis Kostuk was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks and signed immediately with the major league organization. At the time of his departure, he was leading the team in hits (21), home runs (2) and RBI (16).

“Every run we get is crucial, and we understand the value of a single run these days,” Eckstein acknowledged.

“Kurtis was a big piece in the middle of the order for us . . . but at the same time, guys have been stepping up with key hits, and they’ll continue to step up.

“We’ll just have to get through it with a little small ball, run the bases a little better, and I think we’ll be OK in the end.”

The Cards’ pitching depth will be tested in a big way this week – they have seven games in the next five days, beginning with a road doubleheader vs. the North Shore Twins on Tuesday. They then face the Fraser Valley Chiefs on the road Wednesday before returning home to DeLair Park for doubleheaders vs. the Nanaimo Pirates on Saturday (1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.) and the Twins on Sunday (12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.).

“We’ll see how our pitching’s going to hold up over the next couple weeks,” noted Eckstein, whose Cards are tied for fourth place in the BCPBL at 19-13.

“But who knows – maybe we’ll be having some rainout games if the weather doesn’t turn for the better.”