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From pretenders to contenders

Cardinals’ depth should help team climb IBL standings

 By Mark Newman, News Staff 

With strength and depth at every position, the Hamilton Cardinals are looking at a major move up the Intercounty Baseball League standings this season.

 “I don’t see why we couldn’t be better than that,” said team field manager Matt Fortuna, when asked if his troops are finally ready to play .500 baseball.

The Cards posted a 16-26 record last season (a 10 win improvement over 2012) with eight of those losses by two runs or less and this season Fortuna expects to win most of those close games.

“The excuse that we’re a young team just doesn’t fly anymore, because yes, we’re young, but we’re not IBL young any more.”

Fortuna noted the Card’s line-up has an abundance of left and right-handed hitters that can put up runs.

“Our offence is going to be the strength of the team,” he said.

The Hamilton pitching staff has the potential to be one of the best in the league this season.

Veterans Matt Van Pelt, Matt Martinow and Tomas Rincon are confirmed starters, while Tim Krawczyk (who can throw a 92 mile-an-hour fastball) Dustin Godden and new comer Mitch Gardiner will see some starts as well as relief work.

Gardiner is a St. Jean de Brebeuf graduate who is playing college ball in Louisiana.

“Mitch has impeccable control,” Fortuna said.

Van Pelt is expected to get the start at the Cardinals home opener at 2 p.m. Sunday at Bernie Arbour Stadium.

Also new to the bullpen this season is Tanner Guindon, a left-hander from Brantford.

The other pitchers are veterans Kyle Adoranti, Matt Betts, Nino Fasulo and Benson Merritt.

Veterans Lucas Pattison and Zack Sardellitti will split the catching chores.

The Cardinals infield sustained a significant loss when second baseman Zack Ranta suffered a triple ankle fracture in the team’s season opener in Burlington last Saturday.

“We’re going to miss his bat, he was our number three hitter,” Fortuna said. “And we’re missing a good person, a good kid and a popular teammate.”

Fortunately the team has according to Fortuna, “an embarrassment of riches on the infield.”

Veteran John Solazzo will see a lot of action at first and third while returnees Chris Beer, Mike Gottschalk, Anthony Rizquez and Jon Saporsantos will work the other positions.

Gottschalk and Solazzo can also pitch if needed.

New to the infield this season is Marcus Dicenzo, son of Hamilton baseball guru Dean Dicenzo.

Marcus played in the Intercounty junior league with Cambridge last season.

“He’s an incredibly smart player,” said Fortuna.

The team will be going with four outfielders this season.

Returnees Kyle Gappa, Andris Rizquez and Dre Celestijn will patrol left, right and centre field and rookie Cam Willkie will fill in as needed.

Wilkie played with the Oakville Royals last season and attends Brown University.

Power hitter Daniel Jagdeo returns as the team’s designated hitter.

The Cardinals will play a 36-game season that wraps up with a home game against Guelph on July 27th.

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