Baseball: Lindsay Cardinals soar into 2019 baseball season
Ryan Scheufele to lead strong pitching core on valley title defense this spring
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
LINDSAY – The Cardinals are coming off their first section championship since 1992 when they defeated the Bishop Union Broncos 7-6 to claim the Division VI crown. It was Brett Kendig’s fourth with the program, and first as the head coach of the Cardinals. But Kendig will be the first to say that Lindsay is wanting more success in 2019.
“Obviously the class of 2018 will be hard to replace,” Kendig said. “But we are not planning on living in the past.”
Pitching was the cornerstone on which the Cardinals built their 2018 title run, and it seems to be shaping up that way once again. The graduation of David Jimenez, who is now with the Porterville College Pirates, provides the opportunity for Ryan Scheufele to take the leading role.
“He is definitely capable of being our ace this season,” Kendig said.
As a junior Scheufele led the Cardinals with 63 innings pitched. In those innings he posted a 7-2 record with a 2.78 earned run average (ERA). The 50 hits he allowed produced 39 runs, of which only 25 were earned. His 53 strikeouts were a team’s second best.
Scheufele has developed a slight tenderness in his throwing shoulder so far in preseason practices.
“We’re not going to rush anyone,” Kendig said. “We are going to be sure he is solid and healthy when league comes around.”
Yes, the loss of Jimenez does leave a big space to fill, but the Cardinals could have the strongest pitching staff they’ve seen in years. Angel Perez returns off a 4-5 campaign which saw him post a 5.19 ERA in 55.1 innings pitched. Scheufele and Perez are only two a five-man rotation.
At the plate the Cardinals will be looking to Armando Mandrano, a first-year varsity player, to provide some of the offensive spark. Nick Dunning will also be a crucial returner at the plate coming off a freshman outing when he batted .358 in 93 plate appearances.
The Cardinals stand a good chance of repeating as section champions, but one thing has eluded them the last few seasons. Lindsay has finished second in the East Sequoia League the last three seasons. The Sierra Pacific Golden Bears took first in each of those seasons with a co-ESL title with Woodlake in 2016.
“We’ve got to play good fundamental baseball,” Kendig said. “They’re not going to beat themselves.”
One change this season which could provide a wrinkle in that task is the fact the ESL only plays through their league schedule twice. The ESL grew to seven teams with the addition of the Farmersville Aztecs which eliminated facing the same team twice in the later half of league and added a bye week.
The change means teams can have more freedom with their pitch rotation, and save their aces for certain teams.
“I liked the double match week because it showed more depth at pitching which we have,” Kendig said.
The Cardinals begin ESL play on March 7 at home against the Woodlake Tigers.