August 29: Charlotte Stone Crabs 1, Palm Beach Cardinals 0
It is always tough when you are eliminated from playoff contention; knowing that you will not play in September or have a chance to hoist a championship trophy hurts any athlete.
The pain was greatest on Friday, as the Cardinals dropped a 1-0 game on a throwing miscue by shortstop Alex Mejia. Starter Ryan Sherriff (4-4) was brilliant, hurling 7 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, one unearned run and striking out two. His only blemish came in the sixth. Jake Hager had a one out single, advanced on a throwing error by Mejia and scored on a single by Richie Shaffer. The Cardinals had a chance to tie it in the eighth as Charlie Tilson laced a one out triple, but David Popkins struck out and Jacob Wilson grounded out, ending the threat.
With the loss, the Palm Beach Cardinals were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
August 30: Palm Beach Cardinals 4 at Charlotte Stone Crabs 1
Sam Gaviglio (4-1) was working on all cylinders. The right-hander hurled seven innings of one run ball, scattering five hits and striking out four. With the score tied at 1-1 entering the eighth inning, the Cardinals scored three runs on four hits to take the lead. Wilson led off with a double, advanced to third on a single by Jonathan Rodriguez and scored on a sacrifice-squeeze bunt by Nick Longmire, making it 2-1. After a two-out walk to Anthony Garcia, Ronny Gil laced a single, scoring Rodriguez. Jesus Montero capped the scoring with an RBI single, making it 4-1. Logan Billbrough and Ronnie Shaban tossed an inning each to hold off the Stone Crabs. Shaban (S, 18) recorded his team-leading 18th save with a perfect ninth.
August 31: Charlotte Stone Crabs 6 at Palm Beach Cardinals 4
In their second to final game of the 2013 season, the Cardinals defense let the home club down as they made four errors and allowed five unearned runs. Palm Beach battled from one run down to tie it up on a solo homer by Garcia in the bottom of the seventh inning.
With the score 4-4, Charlotte scored a run in the eighth on a fielding error by Garcia and one run in the ninth on a fielding error by Gil, making it 6-4 and giving them the victory.
The defense spoiled a solid outing from Hald, as the lefty went 5 2/3 innings, scattering seven hits, allowing four runs, one earned with three strikeouts. Popkins led the offense, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
September 1: Charlotte Stone Crabs 3 at Palm Beach Cardinals 2
It was fitting that Joey Cuda, the Cardinals most dominant pitcher in the month of August, would toss the finale. The right-hander lived up to the billing, tossing four innings of scoreless baseball.
He was lifted for left-hander Hector Hernandez, who tossed well for three shutout innings. However, the southpaw ran into trouble in the eighth inning. With a one-run lead, he gave up a one-out walk and a two-out single, putting runners on first and second before being lifted for reliever Shaban. Taylor Matter made the Cardinals pay as he belted a 1-0 pitch over the fence, giving the Stone Crabs a 3-1 lead and eventually the game. Hernandez (3-3) took the loss, going 3 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and two earned runs.
The offense was limited to four hits on the night as they dropped their second game to the eventual South Division Champions.
Memorable first impressions: Charlie Tilson showed that he could play at High-A level. The 20-year old was a late addition to the roster and shined in his nine games as a Beach Bird. Tilson hit .294 (10-for-34) with one double, one triple and one run scored. He will likely start 2014 back with Palm Beach.
So close: Jonathan Rodriguez entered the final four games of the season two home runs shy of becoming the first 20-20 player in Palm Beach Cardinals history. The power-hitting infielder missed the mark by two home runs, finishing the season with a team-high 18 homers and 21 stolen bases.
Quality arm: Joey Cuda did all he could to keep the Cardinals in the race. In seven starts, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.40 ERA. He has recorded 29 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings, adding five quality starts and was named The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month for August.
Not too shabby: Ronnie Shaban was a strong contributor to the back end of the bullpen. The righty finished the season with 18 saves - the most since David Carpenter had 20 stops for the 2010 Beach Birds. Shaban is sixth all-time in Palm Beach Cardinals history for saves in a season, behind Mike Sillman (35, 2006), Luke Gregerson (29, 2007), Francisco Samuel (29, 2008), Adam Reifer (21, 2009) and Carpenter (20, 2010).
On the Horizon
With the season wrapped up, the Palm Beach Cardinals will enjoy the off-season before reporting to Spring Training in 2014.
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