The Cardinals do have several players heating up at the right time to be poised to make such a push. The question will be whether the experience already with Springfield can combine with the infusion of youth and recent draft picks to make the charge.
Wednesday, July 3rd, Corpus Christi 3 at Springfield 11
Returning home to Hammons Field on Wednesday evening, lefty Jonathan Cornelius took the hill still trying to earn his first Double-A win. After getting touched for one run in the first, Cornelius buckled down, holding the Hooks scoreless through his next four innings. However, in the sixth he surrendered two more and his night was finished after six having allowed three runs on six hits and earning his coveted win.
The Cardinals jumped out in a powerful way in the bottom of the second inning. It started when Stephen Piscotty, who was 3-for-4, belted a solo bomb to left-center. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Audry Perez crushed a grand slam to left-center, swinging the Cards to the 5-1 advantage. Springfield further stretched the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Luis Mateo struck with a solo shot over the left field fence, increasing the advantage to 6-1. The Cardinals continued the attack in the very next frame, plating another run. After base hits by James Ramsey and Xavier Scruggs, Piscotty struck again by driving an RBI double to right-center field, scoring Ramsey from second. Scruggs tried to score from first on the play, but the Hooks got him at the plate to end the inning with Springfield leading, 7-1.
The Cards tacked on two more tallies in the bottom of the sixth. Back-to-back singles from Stanley and Lemmerman got two men on to start the inning, before they both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Mateo. The Hooks intentionally walked Perez to face Mike O'Neill, who made them pay with a two-run single to left-center field, stretching the advantage back to six runs, 9-3. The Cards then put the finishing touches on in the bottom of the eighth when Perez and O'Neill again came through with consecutive RBI singles, increasing the lead to eight runs.
Thursday, July 4th, Corpus Christi 1 at Springfield 2
Thursday brought an exciting Fourth of July for the Cardinals at home in front of a packed sellout crowd who rushed to see the festivities and take in the game. The fans were treated to a pitchers duel as Seth Blair and Hooks starter Ruben Alaniz alternated scoreless frames through the first three innings. Blair finally allowed one run in the fourth but the one run was all that Blair would allow through his six innings of work, striking out seven Hooks along the way. After Justin Wright threw a perfect seventh inning, Kevin Thomas logged two scoreless frames of his own through the top of the ninth.
The Cardinals were unable to get in the board through the first seven. However, they struck right away against the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth when Perez led off with a game-tying solo home run, squaring the score at 1-1. With a chance to show some fireworks, the Cardinals ended it right away in the bottom of the ninth. Scruggs got in front in the count and then crushed a game-winning solo home run over the left-field wall, propelling Springfield to the 2-1 walk-off win. The home run was Scruggs' 21st of the season.
Friday, July 5th, Corpus Christi 10 at Springfield 8
After the excitement on Thursday, the Cardinals did not get off to a good start on Friday. Anthony Ferrara began by striking out the first two Hooks. That was as good as it would get for Ferrara who then proceeded to allow five runs with two out in the first inning and was chased before getting the third out.
Corey Baker entered and allowed five more runs to score in 3 2/3 innings. Only three of the five runs surrendered by Baker were earned though because of Lemmerman's 17th error of the season. Jose Almarante took over to throw 2 2/3 scoreless frames before turning it over to Wyatt who tossed a perfect eighth inning, striking out two batters. Lee Stoppelman closed out the pitching effort with a scoreless ninth inning.
Trailing by seven runs, the Cards started chipping away in the bottom of the third when Ramsey brought home Adam Melker with an RBI fielder's choice to the right side of the infield, getting the Cards on the board, 7-1. After falling to a nine-run deficit, Springfield started the comeback process again with a solo home run by Ramsey in the bottom of the fifth. On a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth, Vance Albitz delivered with a perfectly placed RBI single to center field, to slice the deficit to 10-3.
Trailing by seven runs to start the bottom of the ninth, Melker chopped a two-run single through the right side of the infield, followed by a towering three-run home run from Albitz to bring Springfield within only two runs of tying. It would stop there however. With O'Neill at the plate and a chance to tie it, the game ended on a groundout, holding the Cards from the series sweep.
Saturday, July 6th, San Antonio 1 at Springfield 8
Welcoming San Antonio to town on Saturday, Cards starter Tim Cooney kept the Missions scoreless through his first four frames, but San Antonio got on the board with a run in the top of the fifth. Cooney, though, looked strong and was stingy, allowing just the one run through his 6 2/3 innings while striking out six. Thomas picked up right where Cooney left off, striking out four batters through 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and then Wright finished it off with a scoreless ninth to close the 8-1 win for Springfield.
The Cardinals offense exploded in the bottom of the second inning. Mateo sparked the onslaught with a solo home run to left-center field followed by a RBI double from Perez. O'Neill brought in Perez with an RBI single to make it 3-0. Consecutive RBI doubles by Ramsey and Gotay stretched it to a 5-0 lead, before Piscotty placed an RBI single to center field. A two-run double by Mateo capped the mammoth rally, further increasing the advantage to 8-0. Mateo and Perez both had two hits apiece.
Sunday, July 7th, San Antonio 9 at Springfield 7
In an odd pattern, Richard Castillo's last four starts have delivered a good outing followed by a bad outing. After strong performance in his last start, you can guess which way this went for Castillo. In contrast to his previous outing in which he lasted eight innings and surrendered one run, Castillo only went five on Sunday, allowing seven runs, six earned and evening his record at 5-5.
Almarante entered after Castillo and allowed another run on a solo home run in the sixth before giving way to Wyatt who threw two scoreless innings. Hooker took over the ninth and allowed another run to close out the loss.
The Cardinals jumped in front in the bottom of the first inning when a Piscotty grounder led to an errant throw allowing Ramsey to score. The offense struck again in the bottom of the second as Mateo darted home on a double play ball hit by Castillo, doubling the early advantage to 2-0.
After losing the lead, the Cardinals battled back in the bottom of the third when Gotay sent a towering two-run homer over the right-center field wall to tie the game. The next batter, Scruggs, belted a long fly ball back to the wall in center field that was initially ruled a home run, but overturned and changed to a ground-rule double but didn't score as the Missions worked out of the jam.
Ramsey brought the Cardinals within three runs with a solo blast in the seventh and then started off the bottom of the ninth with a triple. Gotay followed in the ninth by hammering his second home run of the game over the left field fence. That brought the Cardinals within just two, but they couldn't come up with the final two to tie it in the ninth. Piscotty went 3-for-5 in the loss.
Monday, July 8th, San Antonio 7 at Springfield 4
Making his second start of the week and trying to take the series win, Cornelius took the mound in front of a small Monday night crowd at Hammons Field. Cornelius however, doubled what he had surrendered on Wednesday, this time throwing six innings and allowing six runs on nine hits.
Wright started the seventh inning by getting the first batter and then allowed a solo home run and was pulled at just 1/3 of an inning. Thomas retired the final two batters of the seventh and then delivered a perfect eighth. Stoppelman entered to throw a scoreless ninth.
The Cards did all their scoring in one inning, as they brought the power bats in their side of the fourth inning. The charge started when Piscotty scorched a solo home run to left field, getting Springfield on the board. Consecutive singles by Cody Stanley and Mateo, who both went 2-for-4, put two runners on, before Lemmerman tied the game, 4-4, with a towering three-run homer to left field. Melker added his ninth double of the season in the series-ending loss to the Missions
Audry Perez - The catcher who has struggled most of the year caught fire this week and became the fifth different Springfield Cardinal of the season to be named Texas League Player of the Week.
Stephen Piscotty - The outfielder batted .444 with two home runs and four RBI this week, raising his overall average to .311
Anthony Ferrara - The lefty starter lasted just 2/3 of an inning before being knocked out in his most recent start.
Richard Castillo - Needs to find some consistency after bouncing back and fourth from good start to bad start.
None to report
North Division Standings – second half
The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch
#12 Stephen Piscotty - Hit .444 in his last six games to improve his average to .311 and has slammed three home runs since joined the Double-A birds. All three home runs have been solo shots though.
#13 James Ramsey - Showing a good amount of power lately but really needs to cut down on the strikeouts. Has 56 strikeouts through 51 Double-A games so far in 2013.
#30 Seth Blair – Blair's season is beginning to turn around as he has allowed just nine earned runs in his last five starts combining for 29 2/3 innings, lowing his ERA to 4.81.
#32 Mike O'Neill - What more can you say? He just gets on base. Even during a stretch when he has gone just 11-for-40 at the dish, O'Neill has still posted a .388 on base percentage and is at .427 overall.
#38 Audry Perez - Earned Texas League Player of the Week honors this week after going 7-for-14 with two home runs, a double, and seven RBI this week
#39 Tim Cooney - After a rough June, Cooney got off to a great start in July striking out six in 6 2/3 innings and allowing just one run on Saturday.
The Cardinals will look to make up some ground in the division as they kick off a four-game road series against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Wednesday. Springfield then returns home for a four-game home set against the Arkansas Travelers, starting on Sunday.
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