Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 09/03/14

A strong relief outing by Julio Mateo gave Johnson City’s bats the time to rally in their elimination victory over Elizabethton. Memphis and State College begin postseason play tonight.

Results from the game played Tuesday, September 2nd.

Memphis - off

Memphis (79-64) and Omaha (KC) face off in a best-of-five American Conference Championship. The first two games are set for 7:05 pm CT at Werner Field, home of the Storm Chasers. Game three will be at the same time on Friday at the Redbirds’ AutoZone Park. If games four and five are necessary, they will also take place in Memphis.

Wednesday’s game: at Omaha (76-67), 7:05 pm CT, Tim Cooney (14-6, 3.47) vs. Aaron Brooks (12-3, 3.88)

Spotlight on – Tim Cooney. The tall lefty compiled a solid record in his first year at Triple-A and second full season of pro ball. His 14 wins set a franchise record. Cooney started off strong with a 2.35 ERA in April over 30 2/3 innings but struggled in May and June with ERAs of 5.09 and 4.71, respectively. July was the 23-year-old’s best month with a 1.95 ERA but August’s 3.03 ERA was nothing to sneeze at. A note of concern, however, is his home-and-away splits for batting average against – .233 in 92 2/3 home frames versus .303 in 65 1/3 road innings.

Title hunt – Reno (ARI) and Las Vegas (NYM) do battle for the bragging rights for Nevada in the Pacific Conference Championship, which begins at Las Vegas on Wednesday.

State College - off

State College (48-28) plays Hudson Valley (TB) in the best-of-three Semifinal series. Game one is slated for 6:35 pm ET on Wednesday at Hudson Valley with game two taking place at 7:05 pm ET on Thursday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The third game, if needed, is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET on Friday at the home of the Spikes.

Wednesday’s game: at Hudson Valley (46-30), 6:35 pm ET, Daniel Poncedeleon (3-3, 2.44)

Spotlight on - Daniel Poncedeleon. Poncedeleon is part of a Spikes’ pitching staff that finished second in the league with a 2.97 ERA behind Brooklyn’s 2.74 ERA. After throwing 95 2/3 frames for Embry-Riddle this spring, Poncedeleon’s innings at State College were managed carefully. The right-hander tossed 44 1/3 frames in 12 appearances, 10 starts, compiling a 1.17 WHIP. Poncedeleon shown on the road, holding opposing batters to a .206 batting average over 28 1/3 innings.

Title hunt – Number one seed Tri-City (HOU) takes on Connecticut (DET), the league’s Wild Card entry, with the latter hosting game one and the ValleyCats playing at home the balance of the series.

Johnson City 5 at Elizabethton 4

Oscar Mercado scored the winning run and Julio Mateo tossed five shutout frames of relief as Johnson City edged Elizabethton 5-4, taking the Semifinal series two-games-to-one.

The Twins struck first, blasting a two-run home run off Matt Pearce to go up 2-0 after one. The JC-Cards answered with three of their own the next inning, the big blow being Anthony Ray’s triple that plated Chris Rivera (single) and Charlie Neil after the latter’s single brought in Michael Pritchard (single). All of the Appy Birds’ hits in the second came with two outs.

Three singles and a run on a force out gave Elizabethton a 4-3 advantage after three which is where the score remained until a sixth-inning sac fly by Rivera drove in Casey Grayson (single), knotting the game at four all. Enter Mercado in the seventh as he worked a free pass to open the frame, advanced on singles by Blake Drake and Magneuris Sierra and scored the winning run via a wild pitch.

The JC-Cards banged out 11 hits but Ray’s triple was the only one that went for extra bases. Drake, Grayson and Sierra each singled twice in five at bats, Grayson scoring once. Mercado was 1-for-2 in stolen base attempts and committed a throwing error while playing short. Neil and Mercado were both hit by pitches once.

Julio Mateo, our Player of the Day, took the mound in the fourth, squelching the Twins on two hits and two walks over the next five frames. Regularly a starter, Mateo fanned three with three ground- and seven fly-ball outs.

Starter Matt Pearce surrendered four runs, three earned, on six hits through three. He struck out four and did not issue a free pass. After a 75-minute rain delay, Ismael Brito took the mound in the home half of the ninth to close it out. Brito struck out three, one swinging, working around a one-out single for the save. One of his two called strikeouts led to the Elizabethton batter being tossed by the home plate umpire.

Wednesday’s game: at Danville (ATL), 7:00 pm ET, TBA

Spotlight on – With Johnson City having to burn Mateo in relief to get to the finals, today’s starter has not been determined. Juan Perez would be the next up in the rotation and he did a solid job versus the Braves in an August 22nd win, limiting them to two runs on six hits and two base-on-balls over six.

Title hunt – The best-of-three Appalachian League Championship series features both second-place teams, with Danville having eliminated East Division champion Princeton (TB) in two straight. The Braves will host game one on Wednesday, followed by games two and three, the latter if necessary, at Johnson City.

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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