Cardinals lock up league title
The Eudora Cardinals walked off the field after the first game in Tuesday's doubleheader with De Soto having locked down the 2006 Frontier League title with an 8-1 victory, giving them a 12-0 league mark for the season.
However, the crowd watching the game would have hardly noticed a team that had clinched a league title, as the players walked off the field with other things on their minds.
Tuesday's game marked the final regular season appearances for seniors Rodney Spillman, Luke Abel, Mark Abel, Chad Griffin, Austin Calhoon, Miles Cleveland and Kyle Brouhard.
The group of seniors celebrated the moment with family on the field, but for most of them, there were still things to be accomplished.
"We still have things to take care of," Griffin said. "Today was good, but we were upset at regionals last year. Everything that we've been doing has been geared toward going to the postseason."
Eudora head coach Dirk Kinney took a moment to reflect on what his team and this group of seniors had accomplished.
"I'm proud of them, especially the seniors," Kinney said. "They deserve it because they've put up with me for all this time, and to win the title outright and not have anyone else have a share of it is nice for them."
The Cardinals took care of Tuesday's league business in game one behind the pitching of Brouhard and a six-run second inning, fueled by three De Soto errors.
Eudora batted around in the inning and sent Wildcat starter Taylor Burnett to an early exit with just one out.
Cleveland and junior Kent Swanson each had RBI singles in the inning, while Luke Abel reached on a walk and an error, scoring on both occasions.
When Brouhard came back out, he had a 7-0 lead and proceeded to shutout down a solid De Soto offense for the complete game win.
"Kyle pitched a heck of a game out there," Kinney said. "They're a good team and he just threw strikes out there and kept his defense in the game."
The senior finished the game with nine strikeouts.
Game two proved a little more tense for the Cardinals as they got past the Wildcats 3-2 to finish out the regular season.
Eudora got on the board with a pair of runs in the first thanks to a Mark Abel triple and a Luke Abel RBI single.
Starter Swanson pitched four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth, when De Soto's Tyler Farmer cut the Cardinal lead to one with an RBI single.
Sophomore Kelson Boyer worked in relief and gave up another run to send the game into the seventh tied at two.
In the bottom of the inning, Eudora sat back and allowed De Soto to walk two consecutive batters to load the bases.
Sophomore Matthew Abel, the Cardinals nine-hole hitter, came to the plate with the winning run in sight.
The sophomore laid down a bunt in front of home plate, all but paralyzing the Wildcat defense. Pinch runner Austin Calhoon slid home with the winning run.
"He deserves a lot of credit for that," Kinney said. "Obviously I call it, but it took a lot for him to lay the bunt down like he did."
The game-two win put the Cardinals at 19-1 for the season and puts them as the number one seed in next week's regional tournament at Eudora.
The Cardinals took the opportunity in the second inning of Thursday's game at Baldwin to demonstrate some of the different ways to hit a home run in their 10-4 Frontier League win.
Sophomore Chad Krutz deposited a Cory Wright pitch just over the left field wall to put the Cardinals up 2-1, before senior Rodney Spillman stayed on the ground with the inside the park variety to push across three more runs.
The 5-1 lead proved enough for starter Boyer who went the distance to pick up his sixth win of the season. The Bulldogs got as close as 6-4 after the third inning, thanks in large part to three Cardinal errors.
It is an area the head coach feels still needs attention.
"We can hit the ball. We can hit hard," Eudora coach Dirk Kinney said. "But we've got some problems in the field that we need to work on for sure."