Fall Baseball Closes

Monday's Fall Ball finale did not lack for offensive fireworks as the Veterans outlasted the Freshmen 12-11 during the intrasquad game. The duo of Michael Taylor and John Hester combined for seven hits including a home run to lead the offensive charge. There were plenty of stars on the freshmen side as well not to mention a returning hurler who finished the fall season with a bang.

Monday, October 31st -- Game Three
Veterans  4 0 0  0 0 2  1 1 3  0 1  -  12  17   1
Freshmen  0 0 2  3 2 0  0 0 0  0 4  -  11  17   2

Veterans        POS   AB   R   H  RBI     BB  SO
Jim Rapoport     CF    3   2   1   0       1   0
Chris Minaker   SS/3B  3   1   1   0       0   0
Michael Taylor   RF    6   2   3   2       0   0
John Hester      C/DH  5   3   4   2       1   0
Adam Sorgi      3B/SS  6   2   1   3       0   1
Ryan Seawell     1B    4   2   2   0       1   1
Chris Lewis      2B    4   0   3   3       1   0
Brendan Domaracki LF   2   0   0   1       0   0
Brian Juhl       DH/C  4   0   2   1       1   0
Randy Molina    DH/3B  5   0   0   0       0   0
Jeff Boes       DH/LF  5   0   0   0       0   2

2B: Taylor, Juhl
HR: Hester, Sorgi
SB: Rapoport 2

Freshmen        POS   AB   R   H  RBI     BB  SO
J.J. Jelmini    2B/SS  6   1   1   1       0   1
Cord Phelps     SS/2B  5   2   2   2       1   1
Jason Castro     C/1B  5   1   1   1       0   0
Brent Milleville 1B/C  4   0   1   2       1   0
Joey August      LF    6   1   4   1       0   2
Austin Yount     3B    4   0   2   0       1   0
Jeff Whitlow     CF    5   1   1   0       0   0
Stephen Brown   DH/3B  5   2   2   2       0   1
Grant Escue      RF    4   1   2   1       1   1
Jeremy Bleich    DH    5   2   1   1       0   1

2B: Brown 2, Jelmini, Phelps, Milleville, August, Escue, Bleich

Pitchers        IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Sean Ratliff    4.0  9   6   6   0   1
Matt Manship    5.0  7   5   5   3   0

Jeff Stimpson   5.2  4   1   1   0   4
Greg Reynolds   4.0  9   7   7   3   2
Nolan Gallagher 3.1  5   4   3   3   4

Senior catcher John Hester finished with four hits including a home run to lead the Veterans to a thrilling 12-11 victory over the Freshmen in the deciding third game of the Fall Series.  The two clubs split the first two contests played between the teams before Monday's slugfest at Sunken Diamond that saw a combined 23 runs on 34 hits.  Adam Sorgi added a home run for the returnees while every player in the Freshmen lineup recorded at least one hit.  On the mound, junior Jeff Stimpson was the top performer of the afternoon tossing 5 2/3 innings with just one run allowed and four strike outs.

The Freshmen nearly staged a dramatic comeback in the 11th and final inning of the game.  Trailing 12-7 and facing Nolan Gallagher, Stephen Brown started the rally by reaching on a passed ball, strike three.  Grant Escue followed with a walk before Jeremy Bleich ripped a run-scoring double to left center field to cut the Veteran lead to four runs.

After J.J. Jelmini struck out, Gallagher was removed from the game after reaching his pitch count limit for the day.  The hot-hand in Stimpson was called into pitch and he would have a tough time attempting to slam the door on the rookies.  Cord Phelps greeted Stimpson with a hustle double down the left field line that scored one run and moved another runner over to third.  A Joey August (who was batting out of order in the inning, for whatever reason) single scored another run before Jason Castro lifted a sacrifice fly to center field plating Phelps cutting the deficit down to 12-11.

That set the stage for the slugging Brent Milleville as the tying run stood at first base with two down.  Still facing Stimpson, Milleville lofted a high, deep fly ball to center field that may have had a chance to carry over the head of Jim Rapoport and possibly over the wall during the daytime.  But night had already fallen upon Sunken Diamond on this evening and thus the fly ball died about 15 feet in front of the warning track in straightaway center field as Rapoport made the easy catch to seal the victory for the Veterans.

After losing Game Two of the series on Sunday, the Veterans made an immediate statement early in Game Three.  Facing the southpaw Sean Ratliff, three consecutive singles from Chris Minaker, Michael Taylor, and Hester produced a first-inning run.  Sorgi then stepped to the plate and crushed a three-run home run over the wall in right field for an early 4-0 lead.

The Freshmen though would answer as Jelmini drove an RBI double to deep left center field against Ratliff in the third inning.  In the fourth, facing Matt Manship, Brown provided the big hit with a ringing double to left scoring a pair of runs.  Escue immediately followed with an RBI single of his own giving the frosh a 5-4 advantage.  Then against Greg Reynolds, Milleville hammered a double to deep left center field scoring two more runs as the newcomers built their lead.

But the freshmen would be stuck on seven runs for the majority of the second half of the contest and the Veterans re-took control of the game.  In the seventh, Taylor belted an RBI double to left off of Gallagher tying the score at 7-7.  A Chris Lewis RBI single in the eighth gave the Veterans the lead before Taylor made the defensive play of the game in the bottom of the frame.  On an Austin Yount line drive single to right, Taylor came up throwing and gunned down Milleville, who was trying to score from second, with a perfect one-hop strike to the plate.  The throw showcased Taylor's magnificent throwing arm and kept the returnees in front by a run.

The big inning for the Veterans came in their ninth at-bat.  Again Taylor was in the middle of everything when he singled home Jim Rapoport.  Then with two outs and the bases loaded, Lewis dumped a single into shallow center field against Reynolds scoring two huge insurance runs for the Veterans. 

Finally in the 11th, Hester provided the final blow with a tape-measure solo home run to left field off of Reynolds for a 12-7 advantage.  The freshmen rally would then fall just short in the bottom of the frame.

The offensive fireworks were certainly a sight to see at Sunken Diamond on the final day of Fall Ball.  And what it made it even more impressive was that it came against some of the most talented and experienced pitchers on the staff.  Reynolds, who breezed through his first four outings this fall, was hit hard on this day.  He still featured an impressive fastball (at times sitting at 90-91 M.P.H.), but did not look nearly as sharp leading to more walks and certainly more hits than usual.  In fact, Reynolds gave up nearly as many hits (nine) in this outing then in his first four appearances this fall combined (12).  Chalk it up as an off day for the towering right-hander - and he was hardly alone.

Manship started strong with three scoreless innings with just two hits allowed to begin his afternoon.  The senior right-hander continues to show nice velocity with a fastball sitting at 87-89 M.P.H.  He would struggle though with his command on the fastball over his final two innings leaving it up in the zone and also issuing three walks.  The results were five runs scored against the Texas native.

Gallagher looked impressive, if for nothing else, because his velocity was back.  The sophomore had no problems hitting 90 M.P.H. on this day as he mainly sat in the upper 80's.  The result was a fall ball personal high four strike outs in just 3 1/3 innings.  He was in total control over his first three innings before struggling a bit late as the freshmen mounted their final rally.

Ratliff was hit very hard in the very first inning of the game as he was tagged for four runs on five hits (with Sorgi's blast accounting for most of the damage).  He did settle down to throw a pair of scoreless frames before allowing a pair of runs in his final inning of work.  The freshmen lefty has above-average stuff and excellent potential, but lacked consistency during his outing on Monday.

Finally, it was another stellar performance for Stimpson.  The junior right-hander did not allow a single baserunner over his first three innings.  His first (and only) run allowed didn't come until his sixth and final inning as he saved the game for the Veterans.  Stimpson struggled early this fall with his control, but managed to fix that problem during the second half of the month.  Monday's game saw Stimpson go his entire outing without walking a single batter.  He's throwing hard (87-89 fastball), has three pitches he can get over for strikes, and looks confident.  This is not unlike last fall ball, so now we'll see if Stimpson can carry it over to January and again become a key member of the Cardinal bullpen.

It was a huge day for the 3-4 combo of Taylor and Hester as the duo combined to go 7-for-11 with four RBI to lead the Veterans.  Rapoport didn't join the game until the fifth inning (class), but made an immediate impact with a hit, walk, and a pair of stolen bases to ignite a couple of key rallies.  Lewis provided three hits and three RBI while Seawell and Juhl also recorded multi-hit games at the plate.  The first nine players in the Veteran lineup could form a nice offensive group this year, but as this game (and the entire fall ball) has told us, there will be multiple freshmen vying for immediate playing time.

On Monday, the outfielder August had a stellar game with his 4-for-6 output at the plate.  August is a solid left-handed hitter who makes contact and can play all three outfield positions.  He struggled early this fall at the plate as he made the adjustment to college pitching, but certainly finished the month with a bang.  Meanwhile, ho hum.  Another strong game for Yount - this time at the plate - as he recorded a pair of singles.

With official fall practice now complete, we'll soon take an in-depth look at both the hitters and pitchers.  Future articles will detail fall performances and where everyone fits in.

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