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By Tyler Carney
After a hard fought quarter finals the Cardinals fell 13-12 to the Reds which ended their series and their 2022 campaign. WIth the league as close as it was in 2022 while the season ended on a disappointment the Cardinals did fall to eventual champions in Bridgewater. However 2023 could be the year all the pieces fall into place.
“We had all the pieces, we just couldn’t put it together and it was a tough way to go out, but every year is a new year.” said Cardinals manager Tim Nicely.
The Cards are a historically successful club, however they have not tasted a championship since 1996. The Cards finished second in hitting and third in pitching in 22’, a well rounded team with only a few holes. Nicely has built a good core in Grottoes and is bringing them back for 2023.
Dillion Nicely the hard hitting catcher will bring his 19 RBIs and .333 average back to the Cards lineup, also returning will be Clayton Michael, Jacob Merica, and Cam Irvine. Leading the way on the mound will be Tucker Garrison, the ace pitcher for the Cards.
“ The guys returning are my top guys from last year, we have those pieces,” said Nicely
The club is bringing in a handful of new faces to fill gaps left or fill holes. Natty Solomon and Adian Miller from EMU will join the team. Garret Gargano and Luke Tomajcyzk from Bridgeway College will help round off the lineup, and Mason McDowell will be a handy two-way player for the Cards. Along with a few high school guys.
While Grottoes finished third in general pitching stats in 22’ the bullpen only managed an 11-13 record putting them in a poor position for a playoff push. The team struck out 195 batters however this came from the top of their line up with 50 from Spencer Williams and 37 from Tucker Garrison. Consistent innings on the mound is a need for the Cards. Losing Spencer Williams, Nicely will need to find strikeouts elsewhere. Luckily it is also Tim Nicely's biggest focus for the season.
“ We need to be more consistent with pitching all the way through the rotation, I can’t only have 4 or 5 guys I can rely on game in and game out especially with 28 games this season and the playoffs you need 8 or even 10 that can pitch,” said Nicely “We need the number 5,6 or 7 that can do well for us.”
Some new faces on the mound will help Nicely and Garrison as well as a rounded bullpen. Including those mentioned earlier the team has recently added Jimmy Miller and Eli Elgersma to their rotation and returning two-way Austin Dansey will pitch and field for the Cards again.
“We knew we had the guys to compete with anybody obviously tough to lose in a game 3 in the first round and I’m sure our guys will remember the way we were eliminated but every year is a new year,” said Nicely “We will lean on our core and hope the new guys adapt.”
The playoff push will certainly be on in Grottoes this year, with a strong core and a strong manager Grottoes will be a threat to anyone daring to play them.
The Cards start their run May 23rd at 7:30 in their home park of Shifflett field vs the Bruins.
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