Monarch Park falls in season opener

[attach]5814[/attach]The Monarch Park Lions opened up their boys baseball seasons on an interesting note when they took the field against the East York Goliaths in a 9-0 loss at Stan Wadlow Park.

In addition to having only one umpire for the first few innings, the teams also had to deal with high winds blowing through the infield and a streaker of the canine kind.

Monarch Park was first at bat and stole two bases but weren’t able to steal a point. In the bottom of the first, the Lions weren’t on defence for long as East York went three up and three down.

One out raised protest from the Goliaths as a member of Monarch Park’s coaching staff, who was filling in as a second umpire, failed to call what East York felt was a pitch off the leg of one of their batters. However, it was Monarch Park’s coach, Nick Cunjak, who got upset in the end, saying the umpires were setting a bad example for the players.

“For him to show up halfway through the game maybe shows that they aren’t taking their job as seriously as they need to be,” Cunjak said of the late ump.

The players seemed to take the game quite seriously though. As the pitchers got into their grooves the game turned into a showdown between the Lions’ Tyler Bertin and Chris Fuller for the Goliaths, but it was Bertin who blinked first.

“We had a great pitchers’ duel going on,” Cunjak said. “Unfortunately our pitcher … his arm got a little fatigued, a little tired, but we’ll adjust to that with a little more long toss program.”

After walking two batters in the bottom of the third, Cunjak and his catcher, Che Andrews, approached the mound to have a talk with Bertin, just as the second umpire arrived. Neither the talk nor the extra set of eyes helped the Lions as Nick Collett smashed a two-run single. Collett and another runner also made it home in the inning making the score 4-0 headed into the fourth, much to the delight of East York’s coach Rob Greco.

“Both teams, the pitching was great for four innings,” Greco said. “One little mistake or one little break could have been the difference for either team and we just got lucky and it was us.”

The Lions failed to get on the board in the fourth and saw their catcher and pitcher switch places in the bottom of the inning. The fresh arm was no match for their opponents’ bats and the Lions allowed another five runs in a very long inning. Although his team trailed 9-0 after five innings, Cunjak said the score could have been higher if not for the weather.

“The wind was actually a positive factor for us,” he said. “Our strength is our defence and the wind really helped us today in that sense.”

Both teams had a doubleheader on their schedule that day. The game was called in the fifth due to time limits but not before play was interrupted momentarily by a dog running on the field.

Despite the loss, Cunjak said he liked what he saw from his team in their season opener.

“We had a great start to the game today,” he said. “We went four innings with one of the best teams in Tier 1 and we’re new to Tier 1 so this is quite the accomplishment.”