Cambridge opened the 2018 regular season with a couple of non-region games against traditional baseball powers Norcross & Blessed Trinity the week of February 15th. Not surprisingly with 12 new faces and only a few returning regulars, the team exhibited inconsistent play in both games leading to a couple of losses. New head coach Evan Tieles inherited a daunting non-region schedule, which only magnifies the expected growing pains in the early part of the schedule. The hope is that this talented group will acclimate quickly in preparation for region play, which is still weeks away.
Regular Season Opener - February 15th @ Norcross
Cambridge played really well for large chunks of the season opener. Miscues at the end contributed to an eventual 8-7 defeat at the hands of the home team, but the Bears controlled the game for much of the evening.
Junior Blake Renner got the call on the mound for Cambridge and pitched exceptionally well. A scoreless first led to the first run of the season for the visitors in the second. Mitch Fleming hit a shot to left for a leadoff single. A balk moved him to second where he was driven in by a line drive to left off the bat of Ross Friedrick for a 1-0 lead. Norcross pushed across the tying run in the third courtesy of a couple of singles.
The Cambridge offense exploded in the fourth. Fleming again led off the inning with a missile to left for a single. A Friedrick walk pushed Fleming into scoring position where he was driven in on a double from Justin Tanguay. Andrew Spears lofted a fly ball to center that was mis-played into an additional run for the Bears. A Teddy Egan single and a Cody Rech groundout pushed the score to 5-1 in favor of the visitors.
Renner closed out his evening with a scoreless fourth and Cambridge then added two additional runs in the fifth. Sophomore Ryan Todd led off with a single to right and Fleming got on by error. A Friedrick groundout pushed the runners up a base and allowed both to score on a Tanguay single to right center, pushing the score to 7-1. Four singles and an error led to three Norcross runs and a 7-4 score after five.
Neither team scored in the sixth and Cambridge went down in its half of the seventh, leading to a furious half inning for the home team. A walk, a couple of errors and a single pushed the score to 7-6 with two outs. The Norcross catcher then launched a double over the head of center fielder Todd, scoring the winning run from first in walk-off fashion.
Renner went four strong, allowing a run on four hits with a couple of strikeouts. Andrew Spears took the hard-luck loss. The offense generated its seven runs on seven hits. Tanguay led the way with a couple of hits and three RBI. Fleming had two hits and scored three times.
February 16th - Home vs. Blessed Trinity
Cambridge returned home with a tilt with always talented Blessed Trinity. Michael Polk got the start on the mound for the Bears. BT was able to push across two runs in the first courtesy of two hits and an error. Polk limited further damage and the score stood at 2-0. Cambridge got on the board in the bottom half of the inning. A double to left by Teddy Egan and a line drive single to right by Ryan Todd made the score 2-1. Mitch Fleming stayed hot with a rope to left but the inning ended on a 6-4-3 double play by the visitors.
Neither team scored in the second, though Cambridge wasted a two-out Chase Durham double. A couple of walks, an error and a double by the visitors pushed the score to 5-1 after three. BT pushed two more across in the fourth courtesy of two walks and two hits, and Cambridge went quietly in the bottom of the inning to keep the score at 7-1 after four.
Casey Young replaced Johnny Eneberg with a runner on in the fifth and got out of the jam without allowing a run. The Bears offense got back on track in the bottom of the inning. A leadoff single by Durham and walks to Christian Lail and Cody Rech loaded the bases with nobody out. Cambridge could only push one run across on a fielder's choice by Todd, however, making the score 7-2.
The visitors added an insurance run via error in the sixth and another unearned run in the seventh to complete the 9-2 victory.
Polk took the loss, his first of the season. Eneberg, Young and Kenny Rosenbloom all pitched well in relief, allowing only an unearned run in their combined 4 2/3 innings of work. The offense generated six hits, led by Durham with two hits and Todd with two RBI.
Cambridge returns to non-region play with a game at defending 7A state champion Woodstock on Tuesday, February 20th. Game time is 5:55 PM.