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Cardinals come out of the gate smoking
April 10, 2019

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So far, the rookie season of Gary Knittle as head coach of the Canfield baseball team has been a success.

Knittle's club has ripped off five wins over their first six games and are a perfect 3-0 inside the All American Conference's Red Tier. Although they finished last week on the short end of a 2-0 score against Akron Hoban, the Cardinals are cooking in 2019.

"(The Hoban game) was our fourth straight day of baseball," said Knittle. "We ran out of gas I think."

Canfield may have been on flames versus the Akron outfit, but it was on fire the previous three contests. The week started with back to back triumphs over Howland on Tuesday and Wednesday. The first game was in Trumbull County and the Cardinals played rude house guests. A two run triple by senior Dom Pilolli paced Canfield as it rolled over the Tigers 10-2. Senior Ricky Havrilla had three hits in the win. Seniors Dan Beistel and Jad Jaddallah continued their hot starts to the season with two hits each. Beistel is the team leader in RBIs with 10. Jaddallah is juicing the ball with a team leading .560 batting average. Pilolli has also made his presence known at the plate and on the bases with a team high 10 runs scored.

One day later, Canfield clobbered Howland again 8-0 at home. Junior Brayden Beck blasted a homerun to help the offense. Jaddallah, Beistel and seniors Dante Flak and Michael Budde all collected two hits.

Senior Brent Herrmann teamed with Flak to toss a three hit shutout in the second straight win in the Red Tier. It took the Tigers four innings to pick up their first hit of the game. In the previous win over Howland, Beck tossed five innings giving up just two runs on five hits. Canfield's pitchers only gave up two runs in their first two games combined and only two in the loss to Hoban. Both the starters and relievers have given the Cardinals hope that they can stay near the top of the Red Tier all spring.

"Our pitching across the board through the first six games has been great," said Knittle. "Our ERA is just under 1.00 right now, which means our offense doesn't have to press to score runs."

Scoring wasn't hard pressed for Canfield to do in its 9-4 whipping of West Branch on April 4. Beistel, Beck and Flak beat up the Warriors with two hits apiece. Freshman starting pitcher Nate Shaw showcased himself in a varsity game and gave up four runs on five hits to pick up the win. Budde backed him up with 3 1/3 innings of relief. While Knittle has been leaning a lot on his pitching rotation, he has also seen some steady hitting up and down his lineup.

"We have nine guys on offense with an on base percentage of .400 or higher," said Knittle. "It has allowed us to score a lot of runs."

The Redbirds will attempt to keep the great balance of hitting and pitching going this week. They'll put their conference unbeaten streak on the line in games against Ashtabula Lakeside and Warren Harding. Two more victories in the league will have Knittle's gang in the catbird seat heading into the midway point of the campaign.

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