Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2013 Week 3

A four-RBI effort from Jonathan Keener on Saturday kept the Appalachian League Cardinals from a winless week.

A four-RBI effort from Jonathan Keener on Saturday, July 6, kept the Johnson City Cardinals (8-7) from going winless during the past week. The Cards dropped their final two games against the Princeton Rays to start off the period before losing 2-of-3 to the Kingsport Mets.

Sunday, June 30, at Hunnicutt Field - Rays 4, Cardinals 3 (12 innings)

The rally bug was in the Johnson City crew, but a walkoff RBI in the bottom of the 12th inning put a halt on a potential come from behind win against the Princeton Rays.

Justin Ringo, who served as the DH, got the Cardinals rolling early in the first with a RBI double along with run-scoring hits from Kenny Peoples-Walls and Brett Wiley later in the game.

The Rays would keep pace with Johnson City - matching the team run-for-run until the eighth inning, when they knotted up the game.

Hansel De Los Santos received the starting nod and gave Johnson City a solid performance through five innings of work. Santos finished with five strikeouts while allowing three hits and two runs.

Michael Holback pitched three innings for the Cardinals but picked up the blown save by allowing the tying run in the eighth inning.

Fernando Baez pitched two innings while Anderson Gerdel (1-1) took the loss. To Gerdel's credit - he allowed one lone hit during his inning of work.

Walls finished as the top performer at the plate for Johnson City, tacking on three hits as well as providing key moments at shortstop.

Wiley started at second base but moved to third base later in the game. J.J. Altobelli and Yoenny Gonzalez also saw time at third base.

Along with the multiple lineup changes throughout the contest, Kyle Grieshaber and Richy Pedroza split time at left field. Luis Perez got the starting nod in left.

Monday, July 1, at Hunnicutt Field - Rays 2, Cardinals 1

Third baseman Ronnierd Garcia got the Cardinals on the board first in the low-scoring affair but the Rays would not be denied of a sweep.

Johnson City finished with five hits on the night, two from Garcia, during a defensive struggle to begin the month of July.

While offense was at a premium, the Cardinals received key performances on the mound from Blake McKnight and Will Anderson.

McKnight started the contest and tossed six innings, holding the Rays to one run on five hits while ringing up two batters.

Anderson (0-1) took the loss despite a valiant effort. He allowed just two hits but the biggest hits for the Rays came from the bat of Travis Flores, who hit the go-ahead home run in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Wednesday, July 3, at Joe O'Brien Field - Cardinals and Twins - postponed

After a scheduled day off on Tuesday, rain in the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee stymied any chance of the Appy League West rivals to duel it out in Elizabethton on Wednesday.

The single game contest between the Cardinals and Twins set for Tuesday, August 6, will now be a doubleheader in Elizabethton. Game one is set to begin at 6 p.m. with the rescheduled game to follow.

Thursday, July 4, at Howard Johnson Field - Mets 20, Cardinals 4

Kingsport rang in America's independence with some fireworks of their own in downtown Johnson City.

The Mets shellacked the home squad with 19 hits to cruise their way to an opening win for the Cardinals' home stand.

The Cardinals used five pitchers on the night. While working with their normal rotation of pitchers, Jonathan Keener pitched an inning of relief work. Keener got a chance to show his skills on the mound after serving as a starting catcher for the team – followed by Rowan Wick.

Wick and left fielder Yoenny Gonzalez led the team with two hits each as the club amassed 10 hits.

Gonzalez had two RBI while second baseman Brett Wiley and DH Kyle Grieshaber tacked on an RBI each.

Friday, July 5, at Howard Johnson Field - Mets 5, Cardinals 3

It was not a happy post-Fourth of July for the Cardinals.

Kingsport propelled forward on a four-run effort in the fifth inning to tack another loss onto the Cardinals record.

The Cardinals out-hit the Mets, 12-9, but had trouble bringing runners across the plate. Second baseman Brett Wiley sprung back with some offensive flare, tacking on two hits (single and triple) with an RBI. Lance Jeffries joined Wiley in the two-hit category with an RBI while Kenny Peoples-Walls had one hit for the Cards final run.

Luis Perdomo (1-1) received the start and picked up his first loss of the season. Perdomo pitched four innings and allowed all five of the Mets' runs.

Zach Loraine, Michael Holback and Fernando Baez all combined from the bullpen to keep the Mets scoreless for the remainder of the contest.

Saturday, July 6, at Howard Johnson Field - Cardinals 10, Mets 5

Jonathan Keener nearly outscored the Mets alone with four RBI to help spearhead the Cardinals to their first victory in a week.

Six runs scampered across the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning to help propel Johnson City against their Appy League West rivals to hold steady in third place. Right-fielder Rowan Wick tacked on two RBI toward the Cardinals lead via a double. Centerfielder Vaughn Bryan and designated hitter Brett Wiley each brought in run-scoring hits of their own while shortstop Kenny Peoples-Walls took one for the team, driving in a run after getting pegged by a pitch in the fourth inning with the bases loaded.

Will Anderson got the starting nod and lasted 3 1/3 innings. Steve Sabatino (1-0) kept up his good run from the bullpen, going 2 2/3 innings and picking up the win. Sabatino allowed two runs on four hits with two strikeouts.

Newly-arrived pitcher Brandon Lee threw two innings of scoreless relief followed by Stalyn Lopez, who fanned two in the ninth.

Who's Hot

Rowan Wick - Versatility around the diamond and six hits in the past three games has Wick on a bit of a tear. Wick sits second on the team with a .327 batting average and he leads the team in hits with 17.

Jonathan Keener - From catcher, to pitcher, and anywhere else in between, Keener will look to build on his fiery four-RBI performance Saturday night.

Lance Jeffries - Jeffries is proving to be a bright spot in the lineup with four hits in the past three games. The left fielder has also provided stability in the outfield for manager Tom Kruzel.

Appalachian League West
1) Elizabethton Twins 12-3
2) Greeneville Astros 9-6
3) Johnson City Cardinals 8-7
4) Bristol White Sox 5-9
5) Kingsport Mets 5-10

Appalachian League East
1) Bluefield Blue Jays 10-5
2) Burlington Rays 8-7
3) Pulaski Mariners 7-7
4) Danville Braves 5-9
5) Princeton Rays 4-10

Roster Moves

Saturday was the day of moving and shaking for Johnson City. Pitcher Jacob Booden is heading out to the State College Spikes after a reputable showing with the Cardinals. The Cardinals received another pitcher in Brandon Lee, who has arrived in Tennessee following up a stint with the Cards' Gulf Coast League affiliate. State College Spikes' outfielder Brian Vigo was also officially assigned to Johnson City.

Lineup changes

It has been a round robin of athletes seeing time on the diamonds across Tennessee.

Jonathan Keener seems to have stepped into the role as the number one catcher. Rowan Wick still serves at catcher but has seen increased time in right field.

Vaughn Bryan and Lance Jeffries have continued to hold down their spots at center field and left field. Shortstop Kenny Peoples-Walls has been the mainstay in the infield. Brett Wiley, Justin Ringo, Richy Pedroza, Ronnierd Garcia and J.J. Altobelli have all seen some time at the other infield spots.

The Week Ahead

The Cardinals will open up a three-game series against the Bluefield Blue Jays on the road on Sunday. A trio of home games await Johnson City as the Cards will host the Pulaski Mariners Wednesday through Friday. The squad will end the week on Saturday, traveling to Bristol to take another crack at the Bri-Sox.

Follow Curtis Carden on Twitter: @ERecordSports

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