Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 12

Both series went 2-out-of-3, but the Johnson City Cardinals used the excitement to record their third Appalachian League championship in five years. 19-year-old shortstop Oscar Mercado batted .400 with five RBI and seven stolen bases.

The Johnson City Cardinals finished 2014 with a 41-33 record, including 4-2 in the post-season. They squeezed by the first seed Elizabethton Twins in the Appalachian League West series and went on to defeat the Danville Braves in the finals. During the playoffs, Johnson City posted three road wins on the way to the championship.

Sunday, August 31 at Howard Johnson Field - Elizabethton 7, Johnson City 6 - 13 innings

The two teams combined for 30 hits, but the Twins plated seven, which ultimately paved the way for the first win in the postseason, in extra innings Sunday night.

Dailyn Martinez received the no decision, though he pitched well through six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. However, in the final seven innings, four Cardinals relief pitchers gave up a combined 12 hits and five runs.

Kevin Carlow recorded the loss in the final two innings. Carlow allowed four hits, including the game winner, in the 13th inning.

Casey Grayson went 4-for-6 at the dish while Jesus Ustariz and Jose Godoy had two hits each. Godoy and Cole Lankford each drove in a run - the only two RBI of the game for Johnson City.

Monday, September 1 at Joe O’Brien Field - Johnson City 10, Elizabethton 9

Elizabethton scored all nine runs to go ahead 9-6 in the sixth but four Cardinals runs in the seventh gave Johnson City the juice to keep their postseason hopes alive on the road.

Shortstop Oscar Mercado (3-for-5) smacked the ball for three RBI. Casey Turgeon, Magneuris Sierra and Anthony Ray added two hits each. Casey Grayson drove in two runs while Jesus Ustariz and Turgeon each had a run-scoring hit.

After Landon Beck had a scoreless no decision through five, Anderson Gerdel brought the same good stuff from the regular season to help pull out the Cardinals’ win. In 3 2/3 innings to end the game, Gerdel only gave up two hits with no runs allowed and three strikeouts.

Tuesday, September 2 at Joe O’Brien Field - Johnson City 5, Elizabethton 4

It was close but no cigar for the Elizabethton Twins as Johnson City managed the go-ahead score in the seventh for the series-deciding victory.

The Cardinals scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, both during Chris Rivera’s at-bats. Rivera drove in Casey Grayson on a sacrifice-fly in the sixth while Oscar Mercado scored in the seventh.

Grayson, Magneuris Sierra and Blake Drake each posted 2-for-5 efforts at the dish and outfielder Anthony Ray drove in two runs on a triple in the second inning.

Starter Matt Pearce had a no decision after allowing four runs through three innings.

In a combined relief effort, Julio Mateo and Ismael Brito shut down the Twins on just three hits and a run through the final six innings. Mateo recorded the win while Brito picked up his first save of the postseason.

Wednesday, September 3 at Legion Field - Johnson City 2, Danville 1

Johnson City drove in two in the first and rode strong pitching to score the opening game of the finals.

First baseman Casey Grayson brought the stick with a two-RBI double, scoring Casey Turgeon and Oscar Mercado. Turgeon and Mercado combined for four of the team’s seven hits in the contest with both knocking in a pair each. Third baseman Chris Rivera also smacked in a double.

Juan Perez tossed a one-hitter through six innings on route to the victory and struck out 10 batters. Kender Villegas recorded the save, striking out five through three hitless innings.

Thursday, September 4 at Howard Johnson Field - Danville 6, Johnson City 1

The Braves made things interesting on day two to send the championship series to a deciding game three.

Shortstop Oscar Mercado produced at the plate (2-for-4, 3B) and center fielder Blake Drake drove in the lone run for Johnson City.

Steven Farinaro made the start and took the loss after allowing all six runs through 4 1/3 innings.

Friday, September 5 at Howard Johnson Field - Johnson City 4, Danville 2

A three-run second inning aided by staunch pitching gave the rookie-level Redbirds all they needed to bring the Appalachian League title back to Johnson City.

Cardinals starter Dailyn Martinez made his final performance for the season count, scoring the win after six innings of work. Martinez allowed just five hits and one run and struck out four. Anderson Gerdel pitched two innings of relief while Ismael Brito picked up the save with a scoreless ninth inning.

Offensive production came from the normal suspects, Johnson City infielders Casey Turgeon and Oscar Mercado. Mercado scored two of the Cardinals three runs and added three stolen bases. Turgeon (1-for-2) cranked a solo home run in the seventh for the Cardinals’ final run.

JC Notes

* 2014 is the first Appy League title since 2011 for Johnson City.

* Manager Johnny Rodriguez secured the title in his first year with the club. His 2011 Quad Cities club also won the Midwest League crown.

* Friday’s victory was the lone home win for the Cardinals in the postseason. The other three victories were earned on the road.

* Johnson City qualified for the playoffs during the final week of the regular season.

* Oscar Mercado stole seven bases during the post-season.

Postseason Breakout Players

Oscar Mercado - After posting a .218 batting average in the regular season, Mercado hit .400 in the playoffs with five RBI.

Casey Grayson - The Cardinals infielder and Appy League all-star posted a .429 batting average during the post-season.

Dailyn Martinez - Martinez led the Cardinals in wins to end the regular season and made his the last game of the season count, allowing one run through six innings in the clincher. Martinez finished the year with a 4.33 ERA.

What’s Next

Be sure to stay up to date with The Cardinal Nation in the coming weeks for season recaps and top players from 2014 from all the Cardinals affiliates.

Follow Curtis Carden on Twitter @CurtisCarden_ER.

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