Cards stay atop league standings, lose first game
Monday was a day of firsts for the Eudora Cardinals baseball team.
They remained in first place in the Frontier League with a 7-3 win in the first game of a doubleheader at Ottawa.
The Cyclones then gave Eudora another first, its first loss of the season. A tie breaking three-run sixth inning propelled Ottawa to a 5-2 win.
"They're a good team out there. We weren't playing a bunch of slouches," Eudora coach Dirk Kinney said. "But it really isn't that big of a deal. We just have to not hang our heads and move on to the next games."
The Cardinals' first split of the season began in typical Eudora fashion, with early offense backed up by another solid performance from sophomore pitcher Kelson Boyer.
The Eudora right-hander was the beneficiary of a four-run second inning that added to a first-inning tally, extending the Cardinal lead to 5-0.
The big blow of the inning came off the bat of senior first baseman Chad Griffin. After Ottawa loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter, Griffin drove a single up the middle and then moved to second after the Cyclone center fielder misplayed the ball. The hit was good for three runs, all of which were unearned.
Boyer relinquished two runs in the bottom of the inning, but settled in to retire the next seven batters.
"Today wasn't one of my better days," Boyer said. "But we won, so that's really all that matters."
In game two the Cardinal offense wasn't nearly as kind to starter Kent Swanson, as the team struggled to generate run support.
"We couldn't hit the ball at all," Kinney said. "We weren't good in any phase of the game out there."
The Cardinals seemed to overcome the lack of offense in the fourth as they broke out on top with a pair of runs to take a 2-0 lead.
The Cyclones came back in the bottom of the inning to tie the game just as Swanson had settled in after a shaky first inning.
"I was leaving the ball up in the early going," Swanson said. "But I managed to get it down as the game went on, they were just hitting it."
Eudora had a chance to break the deadlock in the fifth inning, as senior Luke Abel singled to right field and then took advantage of a Cyclone error to advance all the way to third.
With the offense struggling, the Cardinals took a chance to break the tie as Kinney chose to tag Abel from third on a short pop-up to right field.
On the short play, Abel was gunned down at the plate.
"We weren't doing anything offensively so I felt like I had to do something," Kinney said. "That's why I sent him, it just didn't work out."
The game stayed knotted until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Cardinals' usually airtight defense began to come undone.
Ottawa got things going with a solid single up the middle, and then caught a break as second baseman Miles Cleveland dropped the ball on the second half of a double play, to leave the Cyclones on offense with only one out.
"That was big, it doesn't look big cause we got the out, but that was big," Kinney said. "I always say, when we field the ball we are a good team. We weren't a good team out there in the second game."
The inning unraveled as Ottawa took advantage of another Cardinal error, and added on two solid doubles to push across three runs and hand Eudora the loss.
Despite getting tagged with the first loss of the season, Swanson found some positives in his outing, which lasted five and two-thirds innings.
"It was a bit of a confidence booster," Swanson said. "I'm working innings and that's good because regionals are getting close and I very much want to be a part of this rotation."