Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/29/14

Johnson City clinched and Players of the Day Michael Pritchard and Ricardo Bautista plated eight for GCL. Memphis lost, but so did its competition. Palm Beach dropped a key game as the pressure on rained-out Peoria increases.

Results from games played Thursday, August 28th. Note: Playoff watch sections written by Brian Walton.

Memphis 1 at New Orleans 6

Jonathan Cornelius served up three home run balls which totaled the New Orleans’ Zephyrs (MIA) offense. Though Memphis went down in the series-opener, they still hold a comfortable three-game lead over Nashville.

Memphis’s offense was relatively quiet on Thursday night with five hits and only one run. Pete Kozma’s RBI double was one of two extra-base hits on the night.

Cornelius tossed six innings in his second Triple-A start. The recently-promoted lefty yielded six earned runs. Dean Kiekhefer pitched two effective scoreless innings in relief.

Friday’s game: Memphis (77-62) vs. New Orleans (68-72), 7:00 CT, Marco Gonzales (4-1, 3.35)

Playoff watch –Nashville has dropped its last four, keeping the Redbirds up three games in the standings. All four of Memphis’ remaining games are on the road at New Orleans. The two clubs are currently tied in the first tiebreaker, best division record, but that should sort out over the weekend. The Redbirds’ magic number is two – the combined number of Memphis wins and Nashville losses to lock down the division title.

Springfield 5, Arkansas 4

Springfield beat second half division winner Arkansas Travelers for the second straight night with a one-run victory. Some catcher named Yadier Molina collected three hits and caught five innings.

Filling in a spot-start role, Corey Baker went as far as he could, for four innings. The right-hander allowed three earned runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Sam Tuivailala followed with one scoreless inning while Seth Blair covered the next 1 2/3 innings, allowing an earned run.

Jeremy Berg got out of a jam for Blair in the bottom of the seventh, and retired the first two batters in the eighth before being replaced by Lee Stoppelman, went the rest of the way for his fourth save of the season.

Molina was the story of the night and helped draw Springfield’s largest crowd of the season. Molina collected three hits, including two doubles, with an RBI in his second rehab game. Alex Mejia knocked in two more with a single while Jonathan Rodriguez singled in one and Cody Stanley produced the final run with a sac fly.

Friday’s game: Springfield (65-70) vs. Arkansas (72-64), 7:10 CT, Kurt Heyer (4-11, 4.67)

Palm Beach 0 vs. St. Lucie 2

Palm Beach was shut out on a combined five-hitter by the St. Lucie Mets (NYM). With that loss, Palm Beach fell out of the first place tie and now trail a game behind Bradenton for the second half division title and associated playoff berth.

Silfredo Garcia completed the first five innings without allowing any runs, but in the top of the sixth Garcia may have tired. He was touched for two runs, giving him a tough luck loss as the Palm Beach offense couldn’t find any spark.

Bruce Caldwell had two of the Beach Birds’ five hits and Luke Voit had the extra-base hit of the game for the Birds, a double.

Friday’s game: Palm Beach (75-61) vs. St. Lucie (74-61), 6:35 ET, Jimmy Reed (6-1, 3.49 ERA)

Playoff watch – With three games remaining, all against the Mets, the Cards are one game behind with Bradenton for the division lead and lone second half divisional playoff berth. The Marauders own the tiebreaker, meaning their magic number is three to eliminate the Cardinals.

Peoria vs. Beloit - postponed (due to rain)

Peoria will make up this game as part of a doubleheader on Friday night starting at 5:00 CT.

Friday’s game: Doubleheader: Peoria (69-65) vs. Beloit (52-82), 5:00 CT, Chase Brookshire (4-7, 3.91), Kyle Helisek (1-0, 7.13).

Playoff watch – With Peoria having five games remaining, they are one of three clubs battling for the division’s lone wild card. The Chiefs are tied with Quad Cities, 2 1/2 games behind Wisconsin. Realistically, Peoria needs to win out and hope the Timber Rattlers stumble.

State College 1 vs. Williamsport 0

It was very much a pitching duel as both clubs combined had just seven hits. Brian O’Keefe had the only run of the game which came via the home run, just enough to give the Spikes the two-game series sweep over Williamsport.

State College rode four pitchers through nine innings of shutout baseball. Daniel Poncedeleon covered the first five, allowing all four of the Crosscutters’ hits. The bullpen (Brandon Lee, Nick Lomascolo and Kyle Grana) covered the final four frames without allowing a baserunner.

Friday’s game: State College (45-27) vs. Batavia (32-40), 7:05 ET, Will Anderson (6-2, 2.52 ERA)

Playoff watch – With four games remaining, the Spikes have been joined as division winners by Tri-City (HOU) and Hudson Valley (TB). If the season ended today, State College would have home field advantage for the first round, but that lead is just one game. Their opponent would be Tri-City, but that could change based on the weekend’s action.

Johnson City 12 vs. Greeneville 10

Johnson City was able to hold on to a dwindling lead in a high scoring contest that featured 22 runs combined. With the win, the Cardinals clinched a spot in the playoffs.

Starter Juan Perez gave the Cards five innings of three-run ball, as the righty walked two and struck out seven. Jonathan Escudero was the winning pitcher (W, 5-1), but gave up the lead in the seventh, allowing two runs, before the offense came right back to retake the lead.

Ismael Brito and Anderson Gerdel combined to yield five earned runs in the eighth and ninth, but held on to give Johnson City its 36th win of the season.

To lead the offense, Oscar Mercado plated four and Blake Drake had two doubles and two RBI. Devante Lacy drove in three and scored three more and Jose Godoy had three hits, including a solo home run, and crossed home three times.

Friday’s game: Johnson City (36-31) vs. Greeneville (32-33), 7:00 ET, Steven Farinaro (2-4, 4.71)

Playoff watch – With the win, the Cardinals eliminated Greeneville and are in the playoffs. Two games behind Elizabethton with two remaining, the Cards could still win the division since they hold the tiebreaker, but it would take two JC wins and two Twins losses.

The post-season will open Sunday, with the second-place team hosting the first in game one of the three-game series.

GCL Cardinals 19, GCL Nationals 1

The lopsided game was completed early due to incoming rain, in a very fortunate move for the Gulf Coast Cardinals, winners of eight in a row. The first 12 batters of the game reached and the Cards had a 14-0 lead before three outs were recorded. Every hitter in the lineup but one had a multi-hit game.

The Cardinals went 24-for-39 collectively and 12-for-20 with runners in scoring position. GCL batting champion Magneuris Sierra was a big part of this going a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate with a free-pass and three runs scored as the catalyst atop of the order. The outfielder finished the regular season with a .386 average.

The rest of the lineup did damage, too. Edmondo Sosa had two hits and two RBI, co-Players of the Day Michael Pritchard and Ricardo Bautista combined for five hits and eight RBI, while Jake Gronsky, Malik Collymore, Frankie Rodriguez and Eliezer Alvarez combined for eight more driven in.

Starter Andrew Reidt gave up an earned run on two hits with no walks and five strikeouts in five innings. Kevin Alexander pitched a scoreless sixth before the game was stopped by rain.

Friday’s game: GCL Cardinals (0-0) vs. GCL Red Sox (0-0), 12:00 ET, TBA

Playoff watch – The Cardinals entertain the Red Sox in one of the two one-game semi-finals to be played on Friday. The winner will take on the survivor of the Yankees1-Yankees2 game.

If the Cards win Friday, they will hold home field advantage for the finals if Yankees2 win, but will be the road team if Yankees1 advances instead. The GCL finals is a best-of-three series.

Join the pre-game, in-game and post-game discussion about each day’s action at The Cardinal Nation message board.

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