Cards fall just short in Region 10 finals

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2022

By Matt Cizek

matt.cizek@winchestersun.com

After losing in the 40th District Tournament opening round last season and starting this year’s campaign 2-7, a person would have been hard-pressed to find someone predicting that the George Rogers Clark Cardinals would to play in the 2022 10th Region finals. Yet, they found themselves in such a situation Saturday afternoon at the Harrison County ball yard.

Despite a valiant effort, the Cards fell 5-3 to the defending 10th Region champion Campbell County Camels, bringing their year to a close with a record of 21-14.

“It’s tough when you feel like you just fell off a cliff when the season’s over,” GRC Head Coach Chris Varney said. “[I’m] just heartbroken for our guys.”

The game started on a somewhat ominous note for the Cards, as Camels lead-off hitter Greg Vineyard was able to hit a home run over the left-center field fence for an early 1-0 lead.

However, the Cards’ Jordan Soliz held the Camels hitless over the next two innings, and the Cards’ offense struck back in the bottom of the first frame.

Brady Davis stole third base and scored on an RBI infield single by Nick Huff. Then Tanner Walton put both runners in scoring position with a double.

A throw to first base following a dropped third strike saw Huff come home on an aggressive base-running play, while Walton – noticing that the Camels failed to call time out on a visit to the mound – sprinted home with the plate open for the Cards’ third run.

Both seniors, Huff and Walton played their final games in a Cardinal uniform.

“[We’re] just going to miss those guys,” Coach Varney. “They’ve done so much for us and it’s hard to replace [them].”

The Cards ran into a bit of trouble in the fourth inning, when the Camels were able to score a pair of runs – the last on a sacrifice fly by Parker Schweitzer.

With two outs in the sixth, the Camels were able to mount a rally, eventually scoring on a bases-loaded walk and passed ball to give them a two-run advantage.

The Camels’ Max Lause struck out five batters in four innings of relief and kept the Cards off the scoreboard.

“It was a great game. Both teams played well,” Campbell County Head  Coach Scott Schweitzer said. “Coach Varney does a great job, we’re prepared for a lot of things that he can try. At the end of the day, [if] we play our game, good things happen.”

Seniors Huff, Walton, Grayson Gough, Ben Dawalt, and Spencer Stocker – among others – move on after this season.

However, five of the nine players from the starting lineup – Brady Davis, Kamden McAlpin, Caden Spicer, J.P. Gaines, Carter Maynard – are set to return next season. Just as well, pitchers including Soliz, Zack Brookshire, Keyonte Back, and Lochlan Hansel will be back, along with position players that include Jake Sears and Caden Matthews.

This leaves room for optimism regarding Cardinals baseball.

“It’s the future that I see,” Varney said. “I’ve just told the kids that I think we’re going to play in this thing for the next two to four years. That’s the mindset and the goal that we want to set.”