Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 09/02/14

Oscar Mercado’s bat led Johnson City to a do-or-die win on Monday, as the system went 5-0. Memphis and Peoria won in extras while Springfield joined the Chiefs by ending their seasons with a victory. State College rolls into the postseason having won three straight.

Results from games played Monday, September 1st.

Memphis 7 at New Orleans 6 (10)

Tommy Pham’s second walk of the game resulted in the Redbirds’ 7-6 win at New Orleans in 10 innings. Memphis (79-64) dropped the series but nevertheless head into the postseason on a winning note.

Pham worked a two-out free pass, ending up at second when a subsequent pick-off throw went awry. Ed Easley’s single drove in Pham, the second time the centerfielder touched home. Pham doubled once in four at bats while Easley went 2-for-5 with a walk, run scored and an RBI.

Xavier Scruggs and Stephen Piscotty each launched a solo shot, one of Scruggs’ team-leading three hits. Piscotty was the final Redbird with a multi-hit game, adding a double in five at bats with a base-on-balls and three driven in.

Jorge Rondon received both his fifth blown save and fifth win in nine decisions. The righty yielded a game-tying run on two doubles in the ninth but finished the frame, qualifying for the win. Sam Tuivailala fanned two in the 10th, earning his first Triple-A save.

Rondon and Tuivailala both pitched in relief of new arrival Mike Mayers, who was touched for five runs, four earned, on nine hits and a walk through five. Three of the five tallies were produced by two long balls. Mayers struck out four in his Triple-A debut. Mitch Harris tossed a scoreless sixth in his maiden appearance for Memphis, working around a lead-off single by striking two.

Tuesday’s game: Off

Spotlight on – Ed Easley. After starting ice cold in April and May when he sported monthly batting averages of .216 and .188, Easley caught fire over June, July and August. The 28-year-old hit .314 in June, .328 for July before compiling a torrid line of .391/.429/.750/1.179 in 64 at bats during August.

Playoff watch – Memphis heads to Omaha (76-67) (KC) for Wednesday’s American Conference Championship opener. The best-of-five series features the first two games at Omaha and games three through five at Memphis, the latter two only if necessary. Even- versus odd-numbered years determines the series games’ location.

Springfield 9 at Tulsa 8

The S-Cards rallied for a 9-8 win over Tulsa on Monday, salvaging a split of their final series of 2014. Springfield finished with an overall mark of 68-72 for the season, posting identical marks of 34-36 each half.

The Drillers were rather rude to Nick Petree in his Double-A debut, knocking the 24-year-old around for seven runs, five earned, on 10 hits and a free pass in 4 2/3. Petree exited with his team in a 7-2 hole, but the bats went to work, scoring seven times in the next two frames for the lead.

Nick Martini led Springfield’s 12-hit attack, going 4-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and one knocked in. Patrick Wisdom added two hits in four at bats, one of them a three-run bomb, touched home twice and walked once. Jonathan Rodriguez and Breyvic Valera both had two hits in five at bats, Rodriguez scoring one and Valera driving in one.

Corey Baker (W, 1-0) surrendered a solo blast, one of two hits and a base-on-balls yielded in 1 1/3. Jeremy Berg struck out all three batters faced while Jonathan Cornelius had to be bailed out by Joe Donofrio after he gave up a hit and walk while recording one out. Donofrio stranded both runners, picking up his 16th save.

Peoria 6 at Kane County 5 (12)

A Cougars wild pitch in the 12th brought Vaughn Bryan across, giving the Chiefs a 6-5 triumph in the decisive third game of their series. Peoria went 72-67 in 2014, good for third place for the season.

Bryan led off the 12th with a base-on-balls, was sacrificed to second by Luis Perez then advanced to third on Justin Ringo’s single to left. A jittery Kane County reliever uncorked a wild pitch that brought Bryan across, the second time he scored. Bryan went 2-for-5, batting in front of Perez who was a perfect 4-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBI. Richy Pedroza went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a solo bomb, one of his three runs scored.

Rob Kaminsky finished a superb 2014 campaign with a subpar effort, yielding four runs, three earned, on five hits and a walk in five. Jhonny Polanco held the Cougars to two hits over two but a run off Kyle Barraclough (BS, 2) in the eighth sent the game into extras. Kyle Helisek tiptoed around two hits and two free passes, one intentional, in three innings for his second win in three decisions.

State College 6 at Williamsport 0

Alex De Leon and Austin Gomber led the Spikes in their 6-0 blanking of Williamsport, the finale of the regular season. Pinckney Division champion State College’s 48-28 record ties last year’s franchise mark for wins as they head into the postseason.

De Leon produced his second four-hit game of 2014, going 4-for-5 with a two-run home run that was part of three RBIs. Danny Diekroeger, Chase Raffield and Darren Seferina had two hits apiece, Diekroeger doubling twice and touching home two times. Raffield also scored twice while Seferina and Diekroeger drove in one.

Gomber shut down the Crosscutters for the second straight time, matching his August 27th seven-inning start and permitting only five hits. Dylan Hawkins and Joe Scanio each tossed a scoreless frame, Hawkins walking one.

Tuesday’s game: Off

Spotlight on – Alex De Leon. The 23-year-old is completing his second season with the Spikes, posting a line of .268/.347/.460/.807 in 239 at bats over 64 games. That’s an improvement on his 2013 numbers, when he went .197/.284/.350/.634, 23-for-117 in 38 games.

Playoff watch – State College, the New York-Penn League second seed, clinched home field advantage in their best-of-three Semifinal Series versus Hudson Valley (TB). The Renegades host game one on Wednesday while the Spikes will be at home for Thursday’s second game and game three on Friday, if necessary. Top seed Tri-City (HOU) faces Connecticut (DET), the Wild Card, in the other match-up.

Johnson City 10 at Elizabethton 9

The JC-Cards’ survived blowing a six-run lead, rallying past the Twins 10-9, evening the three-game first-round series at one game each.

With a 6-0 lead through five, it looked like Johnson City would cruise to the win but 13 Elizabethton players came to the plate in a truly horrific sixth, resulting in a 9-6 deficit. The bats went right back to work the next inning, pushing across four more to keep the team’s championship hopes alive.

The Appy Birds banged out 12 hits spread among seven starters. Player of the Day Oscar Mercado personally accounted for six runs, going 3-for-5 with a double, three runs scored and three knocked in. Mercado stole his first bag as well.

Casey Turgeon, Anthony Ray and Magneuris Sierra added two hits apiece, Turgeon and Sierra doubling once while Turgeon worked a free pass, crossed home three times with an RBI. Ray scored twice and Sierra once, the latter while batting third.

Landon Beck kept Elizabethton off the board on one hit through five but was unable to retire any of the three faced in the sixth. Beck got the hook after yielding a double, triple and walk, finishing with three hits and a base-on-balls given up in five plus, resulting in three runs.

Jery Then was totally ineffective in his Appalachian League debut, uncorking three wild pitches to two batters, one of whom walked and the other singled and both subsequently scoring under Sasha Kuebel’s watch. Kuebel (BS, 1) was touched for four runs on two hits, a free pass and a hit batsman while recording the inning’s first out.

Anderson Gerdel (W, 1-0) staunched the bleeding but not before yielding a sac fly and single that brought Kuebel’s final two runners across. Gerdel struck out three over the last 3 2/3, giving up two hits.

Tuesday’s game: at Elizabethton, 7:00 pm ET, Matt Pearce (regular season - 2-4, 4.20)

Spotlight on – Matt Pearce. Pearce faced the Twins twice during the season, blanking them on three hits through five on July 6th before being hammered for six tallies in four innings on July 25th. He finished the regular season by holding rival Kingsport to two runs, one earned, on seven hits over four frames on August 26th.

Playoff watch – Either Elizabethton’s or Johnson City’s season ends Tuesday night, with the winner to face Danville (ATL), the East Division’s Wild Card entry. The Braves won both of their games with Princeton, 4-3 at home and 8-5 at the home of the Rays.

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