Final Preparations

The Cardinal baseball team is wrapping up their preseason intrasquad schedule with the '06 campaign just days away from beginning. Here is all of the latest from Sunken Diamond with notes on a recent practice game, an emerging pitcher, and various injury news. The regular season begins Friday night when Cal State Fullerton comes to town.

The White team (mainly freshmen) defeated the Cardinal team (primarily veterans) 5-4 during Sunday's intrasquad game at Sunken Diamond :

White      0 0 1  1 1 0  0 2 0  0   -   5  12   2
Cardinal   0 2 0  0 0 0  0 1 1  0   -   4  10   2

White              POS    AB   R   H  RBI   BB  SO
Cord Phelps        SS/2B   5   0   2   0     0   0
Sean Ratliff        OF     5   0   1   1     0   0
Jason Castro       1B/C    5   0   2   1     0   0
Brent Milleville    DH     4   2   0   0     1   1
Joey August         OF     4   0   0   0     0   1
Brian Juhl         C/DH    4   1   3   2     0   1
J.J. Jelmini       2B/SS   4   0   2   1     0   0
Jeff Whitlow        OF     4   0   0   0     0   0
Grant Escue        DH/1B   4   0   1   0     0   0
Stephen Brown       3B     4   2   1   0     0   1

2B: Juhl, Brown
HR: Juhl (8th inning, off Yount, 1 on)
E: Brown 2

Cardinal            POS    AB   R   H  RBI   BB  SO
Jim Rapoport         CF     4   0   0   0     2   1
Chris Minaker        SS     4   0   0   0     1   0
Michael Taylor       RF     5   1   2   1     0   0
John Hester           C     5   0   1   0     0   0
Chris Lewis          2B     5   0   2   1     0   1
Ryan Seawell         1B     5   0   1   0     0   2
Brendan Domaracki    LF     4   1   1   1     1   0
Randy Molina         3B     3   0   0   0     2   1
Austin Yount         DH     2   1   1   0     0   0
Matt Cano            DH     5   1   2   1     0   1

2B: Yount, Cano
HR: Domaracki (2nd inning, off Davis, 0 on)
SB: Rapoport
E: Minaker, Molina

Pitchers            IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Matt Leva           4.0  6   1   1   1   1
Erik Davis          4.0  6   3   2   0   2

David Stringer      4.0  2   1   0   1   2
Jeff Stimpson       4.0  5   2   1   1   3
Austin Yount        4.0  3   2   2   4   2

It was a well-pitched affair on Sunday afternoon with all five hurlers looking strong in their final tune-ups before the start of the regular season.  The top pitcher of the day was the sophomore right-hander David Stringer.  Stringer fired four scoreless innings with just two hits allowed and a single walk.  Despite a grand total of zero career innings at the collegiate level, Stringer backed-up his spectacular Fall Ball with a very solid preseason on the mound.  Expect to see Stringer on the mound early this season and if he pitches like he has been in practice, it's not hard to see the second-year player becoming a key member of this pitching staff.  His improvement from year one to year two has been staggering.

Matt Leva and Erik Davis started on the mound (all five pitchers threw to both teams) on this day.  Leva scattered six hits with his lone blemish coming in his third inning of work.  Frosh third baseman Stephen Brown doubled to the right center field gap and he scored two batters later when Sean Ratliff lined a single into right.  Leva wasn't overpowering with just one punch out, but threw a lot of strikes and managed to keep the opposition off the board.

Davis had a tremendous outing his last time out and although he wasn't quite as effective on Sunday, it was still an encouraging effort for the sophomore.  Like with Leva, Davis scattered six hits over four innings and stayed out of any serious trouble by throwing a lot of strikes.  The tough inning for Davis came in his second frame when Brendan Domaracki blasted a solo home run to right field.  Two batters later, Austin Yount (the lone freshman playing for the Cardinal team) smoked a double to deep right field and scored when Matt Cano blooped a single over the shortstop.

Jeff Stimpson racked up the most strike outs on the afternoon fanning three batters over his four innings.  The control for Stimpson was much better on Sunday compared to his last performance and like everyone else who threw, he managed to stay out of any serious trouble on the mound.  Stimpson was tagged for his lone earned run when Cano belted a double down the left field line with one out.  Then with two down, Michael Taylor ripped a single through the middle to score the former team manager.

Finally, it was yet another encouraging outing on the mound for Yount.  The freshman two-way player allowed just three hits in his four innings en route to picking up a save.  The only runs scored against Yount came in his second inning of work when Brent Milleville drew a one-out walk which was followed two batters later by a Brian Juhl home run to deep right field.  Juhl was the lone veteran playing on the White team.

With the Cardinal team trailing 5-4, Yount took the mound for the final inning of the afternoon (game length is dictated by pitch counts, not innings).  Needing just one run to tie, the Cardinal squad loaded the bases with one out as Ryan Seawell singled which was followed by consecutive walks to Domaracki and Randy Molina.  But showing excellent poise, Yount rebounded with a strike out of Cano before retiring Rapoport on a routine fly out to shallow left field. 

Offensively, Juhl was the star of the game for the White team.  The sophomore catcher went 3-for-4 finishing just a triple shy of the cycle.  Juhl continues to show he's ready for playing time early this season - which should come at DH.  Jason Castro had yet another multi-hit game with his 2-for-5 performance.  Castro is starting these intrasquad games at first base before sliding over to catcher for a few innings.  Middle infielders Cord Phelps and J.J. Jelmini also produced multi-hit games at the plate.

On the other side, Taylor recorded a pair of hits including an RBI.  It was a rare quiet day for Minaker, but his middle infield partner in Chris Lewis rapped out two singles with an RBI.  Domaracki's home run was also significant as it was his second of the preseason.   After struggling at the plate as a freshman, Domaracki has displayed an improved stroke this school year with much more power.  I expect he'll be given a significant amount of playing time in left field (especially against right-handed pitching) early in the season with a chance to win that everyday job.

Other Notes:
* Junior third baseman Adam Sorgi continues to sit out with a nagging shoulder injury.  Sorgi, who is limited to baserunning drills right now, has not seen the field in any intrasquad game in over a week.  Look for either Molina or Yount at third base in his absence.  Molina garnered just six at-bats during his freshman campaign.  He struggled mightily with the bat during Fall Ball, but his picked things up this preseason.  Meanwhile, Yount has burst onto the scene in these practice games offensively.  The Arizona native hit a sizzling .417 (15-for-36) during fall practice and has maintained an average just over .300 during the month of January.  Yount is obviously a year younger than Molina, but the results are hard to ignore.  Yount moving over to play with the Veterans on Sunday may also be significant (he had been hitting second for the freshmen until this day).  Sorgi led the Cardinal with a .322 batting average last season and was recently named the "top defensive third baseman" in the Pac-10 by Baseball America.

* Milleville has been participating in intrasquad games now for over a week.  The freshman slugger injured his hamstring in a practice game earlier this month knocking him out of action for a few days.  The coaching staff has been very cautious with Milleville in that they are not allowing him to do any baserunning or play the field during these games.  Milleville is doing plenty of jogging exercises on the side though.  Seawell and Castro are seeing the bulk of playing time at first base.

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