The dust settles on yet another baseball season, and once again the 6th seeded Cards came up just short of advancing, losing to Canal Winchester 5-4 in the district semi-final May 16 at Upper Arlington, but the future appears bright at Gussler park.
The Cards trailed 5-0 after the 3rd inning but managed to come back by loading the bases, down 5-4 in the 7th. Then starting pitcher Spencer Kiehl, sophomore, nearly hit a game winning double, but Canal Winchester’s left fielder made a diving catch to end the game. “I lept out of the dugout ready to celebrate because I thought he [Spencer] had just won us the game,” said Senior Andy Ferguson. “I still can’t believe he caught it” said Senior captain Tommy Parish. Kiehl had a rough day on the mound, allowing five runs and not lasting past the third inning. Reliever Trent Castle, junior, was able to shut Canal Winchester out after that, keeping the game in reach for the Cards, but the rally was just too little too late.
Even though the Cards were upset, it was still a great rebounding year for them as they went 21-6 which was a 10-win improvement from last season. This year also included wins over 1 seeded Hilliard Darby and 2 seeded Westerville Central. Next year, the Cards will lose some key contributors such as first baseman Tommy Parish, shortstop Jaret Gerber, who was 2nd team all OCC, and second baseman Anthony Falks, who earned an OCC honorable mention, but this was a team mostly led by juniors and sophomores who will likely compete again next year.
The Cards will return both Kiehl, who received 1st team all district honors, and Castle, who finished with 2nd team all district honors as well as starting pitcher Caleb Struewing, who finished with all 1st team OCC Central honors. The team also returns big-hitting catcher Andy Caddas, who was 2nd team all OCC Central. Other notable contributors who will return include Nick Kendig and Niles Mantor as well as Matt Harrison and Vince Armstrong.
Overall, it might be easy for the Cards to let the disappointing early exit in the tournament define their season; however, that should not be the case as they had an excellent year, and next year should bring even bigger and better outcomes for them.