Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 2

The Appalachian League Cardinals logged their second 3-3 week of the 2012 season.

The Johnson City Cardinals showed improvement in both series' this week against Pulaski (Mariners) and Burlington (Royals), winning three of six games. As far as skill, the team is not lacking. With many new teammates, there seems to be a struggle getting used to one another on the field. However, Johnson City continues to work hard.

Their overall 6-6 record places them in third in the West Division, two games behind the Greeneville Astros. The Cardinals are just 2-4 at home in the early going.

Monday, June 25, Johnson City 0 at Pulaski 5

The Cardinals began their series against the Mariners roughly, managing just four hits on the evening. Michael Knox came ready to play, landing a double on his first at bat in the top of the second. The first baseman later singled and walked but like his teammates, never crossed home plate.

Most players made contact with the ball, but either grounded out or flied out. Hitting seems to be a somewhat weak area in the beginning of this season as balls are generally being hit directly at opposing defenders.

Starter Juan Bautista held Pulaski to just one run until the bottom of the sixth when the visitors added a second run via a sacrifice fly to right fielder Lance Jeffries by Jabari Henry. Reliever Jacob Booden allowed three more runs in the bottom of the eighth to solidify the Mariners' win.

Tuesday, June 26, Johnson City 9 at Pulaski 0

The tables turned in the second game of the series against Pulaski. Johnson City recovered from its struggles in the first game and came out ready to show everyone what they were made of.

In the top of the first, C.J. McElroy walked, then stole second and advanced to third on an error. Ildemaro Vargas doubled, scoring McElroy. It seemed like a brand new team, strong and confident from the start. Cardinals pitcher Victor De Leon made that first run stand up as he threw six shutout innings on four hits. He struck out five and walked no one, receiving the win.

Once again in the top of the third Vargas drove McElroy in with a sacrifice fly to left field. The Cards added three more in the fourth as Steve Bean singled on a grounder, plating Ronald Castillo. Cesar Valera then doubled, sending Bean and Trevor Martin home. McElroy, Knox, Castillo and Jeffries scored in the top of the seventh, ending the scoring for the night.

McElroy was on base four times and scored three runs. Castillo had four hits in five at-bats and crossed the plate twice.

Wednesday, June 27, Johnson City 4 at Pulaski 3 (10 innings)

McElroy scored the first run of the game in the fourth inning, but Pulaski came back with three in the bottom of the fifth, chasing starter Bryan Martinez. The Cardinals were held at a stand still until the seventh inning, when they tied the game on runs scored by Gerwuins Velazco and Valera.

The crowd rose with anticipation as the game went into the tenth inning. Knox doubled on a line drive to left field and Castillo scored. Ronnie Shaban relieved Zach Petrick in the bottom of the tenth and held off the Mariners for the save, his third of the season, with Petrick getting the win after pitching a scoreless eighth and ninth.

McElroy and Velazco each had a single, double and scored a run. Valera went 3-for-5. Dyllon Nuernberg fanned five in 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.

Thursday, June 28, Johnson City 2, Burlington 14

Johnson City fans sat in utter disappointment as the Cardinals were dominated in the first game of the series against the Royals, losing 14-2. The Cardinals had seven hits, but the pitching yielded 14.

Both runs scored by Johnson City came at the bottom of the third, when Valera and McElroy scored off a double by Jeremy Schaffer.

Starter Stalyn Lopez didn't make it out of the third inning, giving up eight runs. Reliever Jacob Booden was charged with the final four runs in the eighth and ninth.

Friday, June 29, Johnson City 0, Burlington 6

The Cardinals offense continued to struggle, scoring no runs. They did step up their defense somewhat, though. Shortstop Valera was on top of his game, getting several impressive outs.

Mike Aldrete replaced losing pitcher Steven Gallardo at the top of the third with the Cards down 2-0 and gave up another pair in his first inning of work. Both pitchers made throwing errors that contributed to their problems. Burlington plated the final two runs against Steve Sabatino in the sixth.

Vargas doubled twice and Valera had two singles in three at-bats.

Saturday, June 30, Johnson City 6, Burlington 4

The fans had something to be pleased about with the final game of the series, as Dixon Llorens made his pitching debut and gained the win, giving high hopes for his future with the Cardinals. Llorens replaced Joey Donofrio at the top of the seventh and struck out three in two innings of pitching. Ronnie Shaban added his fourth save with a scoreless ninth.

Burlington held the Cards off the scoreboard until the bottom of the fourth, when Jeffries scored off a line drive to center by Schaffer and the game completely changed. The team found their stability and gained three more runs in the sixth and two in the seventh for the win.

A wild pitch scored the first of the three runs in the sixth with Carson Kelly and Dutch Deol adding RBI singles to tie the score. The winning runs in the seventh came home on another wild pitch and a Ronald Castillo RBI single.

Jeffries had two hits and scored three runs. Schaffer doubled twice and Kelly broke out of his career-opening slump with a 3-for-4 game.

Team Transactions

7/1 - LHP Nick Gillung assigned from the Palm Beach Cardinals. Gillung, 23 year-old from Worthville, PA, was the 19th round draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 from Mercyhurst College.

Next Week's Schedule

Sunday-Tuesday, July 1-3: Johnson City Cardinals @ Bristol White Sox (Cardinals lost first game of series 0-6. Bristol currently holds fourth in the Appalachian League West.)

Wednesday-Friday, July 4-6: Johnson City Cardinals at Greeneville Astros (The Astros stand in first in the Appalachian League West.)

Saturday-Monday, July 7-9: Johnson City Cardinals vs. Kingsport Mets (Kingsport remains in fifth in the Appalachian League West.)

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