Cardiac Cards take first Northern A title

By Adam Jerome, I-O Reporter
Cardiac Cards take first Northern A title   This past weekend the Tri-County Cardinals traveled to Havre for the Northern A District Tournament.  As the fourth seed the Cardinals cruised undefeated to the first District Championship in team history.
   Coach Tyler Bucklin commented on the title, “The Cut Bank Cardinals went to state in 1999, although I’m not sure it was as district champions, but it is the first for us since we became the Tri-County Cardinals and I’ve been here for eight years.”
   The team is now poised for a championship run at the State Tournament in Three Forks.
   The Cards won the District title thanks to some timely hitting and pitching while playing solid defense throughout.
   Coach Tyson Anderson commented, “Our pitching and defense was outstanding the entire weekend and led to the championship.  It was a very exciting weekend for us.”
   In their first matchup of the tourney, Tri-County faced the Medicine Hat Knights, with the Cards getting the win 6-3.  
   Jake Robison got the start and the win pitching eight innings giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out five batters.
   Orin Johnson put his recent pitching woes behind him to earn the save.  Johnson pitched one perfect inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
   While the pitching effort was solid the Cardinals defense helped their pitchers as they turned four double plays.
   Robison also carried the offense as he went 3-3 at the plate with five RBIs.  Logan Rowe was 2-5 with two runs scored and Johnson was 2-3 with a double, a triple, two runs and a stolen base.  Jade Premo was also perfect at the plate with a 3-3 day.
   In the second game of the tournament on Friday the Cardinals beat the Fort MacLeod Royals 12-8 in come from behind fashion.
   Coach Anderson added, “We showed a lot of poise on Friday versus the Royals after trailing 6-0.  We could’ve easily packed it in, but instead we dug deep and got the come from behind victory.”
   The Cardinals showed what they were made of as they quickly fell behind 6-0 before they began to make their move which was capped by a seven run ninth inning to take the first lead of the game and seal the win.
   John Johannsen got the start and the win.  He pitched eight innings and gave up seven hits and six early runs before he settled down and let his offense get him back in the game.
   Johnson entered the game in relief in the ninth.  He gave up one hit and two runs before clamping down and ensuring a trip to the semifinals.
   On offense Johnson was 3-6 with another triple and four runs knocked in.  Robison was 3-6 with two RBIs and Joe Hallenburg was 5-6 with two runs and a RBI.
   In the semifinal matchup Tri-County took on the Lethbridge Miners with a trip to State on the line.  The Cardinals stepped up to the plate, no pun intended and earned their first trip to the big dance in eight years with a 3-2 victory.
   Logan (Wildthing) Rowe pitched a gem as he went seven innings only giving up three hits and one run while sitting down seven batters on strikes.  Robison got the two-inning save allowing two hits and one run.
   Hallenburg was 2-4 with a RBI and Jade Premo was 2-4 with a double and a RBI.
   The win would give the Cardinals some much needed rest as the Lethbridge Miners would fight back on Sunday morning to earn a rematch with the Cards for the whole ball of wax.
   Tri-County would once again overcome a shaky start to the game to win convincingly in seven innings, 16-5.
   The Cards started out hot with the lumber as they scored four runs in the top of the first before watching the lead disappear in the bottom half of the inning as the Miners took the 5-4 advantage.  That proved to be the last runs Lethbridge would score though as starting pitcher Riley Styren shut down the Miners scattering five hits and no more runs for the complete game victory.
   Styren was once again helped by his defense as they turned two crucial double plays in the middle innings.
   The Cards offense began to torch Miner pitcher Roy Adams in the top of the fourth as they scored seven runs highlighted by Johnsons 3-run inside the park homerun to take the 11-5 lead before scoring five more in the top of the seventh to ten run rule Lethbridge.
   Styren sat down the first two batters in the seventh before allowing the next two batters to reach base.  The game would end thanks to a mental error by the Miners.  With runners sitting on second and third Styren issued another walk, but the base runner on third apparently thought the walk would send him home as he began to trot down to home plate.  Catcher Bjorn Swanson saw this and caught him in the hot box eventually tagging him out to win the district title.
   The Cardinals will head down to Three Forks on Thursday to try and win a State title where they have an opening round matchup with the host Gallatin Valley Outlaws.