The Johnson City Cardinals wrapped up their regular season Thursday with a 39-29 record overall, and claimed the Appalachian League Western Division title. The Cardinals are taking on the second-place Elizabethton Twins in the first round of the playoffs, a best-of-three set.
Sunday August 28, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 5 at Bluefield Blue Jays 9
The Blue Jays used a combination of shaky Johnson City defense (four errors) and speed (three stolen bases) to propel themselves to a 9-5 win over the Cardinals Sunday in Bluefield. The Cardinals and Blue Jays finished their season series with each team having three wins apiece.
Caleb Lopes paced Johnson City’s offense as the 33rd round selection out of West Georgia last June reached base three times in five plate appearances. Lopes went 2-for-4 with a double, and two RBI.
David Oca started and struggled as he allowed eight runs in 3 2/3 innings. One of Oca’s main issues in his start was his lack of command as he walked six. Despite the lack of innings pitched and walks, Oca was only tagged with one earned run because of errors by the Cardinals’ defense. Oca’s record dips to 2-3 in 2016 and he owns an ERA of 5.96.
Monday August 29, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 3 at Bluefield Blue Jays 2
Erik Garcia had a big game as he went 1-for-3 with a home run and three RBI to help the Cardinals salvage game three of the three-game series at Bluefield Monday, 3-2. Garcia, an undrafted player out of Missouri Baptist, has been one of the team’s top run producers as of late with nine RBI over his past 10 games.
After a short start in his last outing, Frederis Parra returned to form Monday as he went seven innings while allowing just two runs (no earned). Parra matched his season-high with six strikeouts. The win moves Parra’s record to 3-5 on the season and he lowered his team-leading ERA to 2.66.
Tuesday August 30, 2016: Pulaski Yankees 7 at Johnson City Cardinals 2
Johnson City had a rough go of it offensively in the opening game of its final regular season series as it managed just three hits. Due to the lack of offense and the Yankees launching four home runs, Johnson City dropped Game 1 to Pulaski by a 7-2 final score.
Matt Fiedler provided almost all the offense for Johnson City as he went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run. Andrew Knizner posted the other hit.
Ian Oxnevad had one of his shortest outings of the season as he only lasted 4 2/3. Oxnevad was saddled with the loss and his record now stands at 5-3.
Wednesday August 31, 2016: Pulaski Yankee 8 at Johnson City Cardinals 0
A day after scoring two runs in the series opener, the Cardinals’ offense continued to struggle as it was shut out in Game 2 on Wednesday. Pulaski, meanwhile, totaled eight runs against Johnson City pitching.
Individually, Joey Hawkins led Johnson City going 2-for-3 with a double. Ramon Santos did not pitch poorly as he allowed just three earned runs in six innings. Santos was hampered by Johnson City’s defense, which committed four errors, leading to three unearned runs.
Thursday September 1, 2016 – Pulaski Yankees 1 at Johnson City Cardinals 5
In the regular season finale, the Cardinals used a bullpen approach to handle their pitching. A total of five pitchers were used to keep the hot-hitting Yankees in check as Johnson City picked up a 5-1 win.
Johnson City did all of its damage between the third and fifth innings. Shane Billings had one of the bigger hits in the Cardinals’ rallies and went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Allen Cordoba and Josh Lopez also had two hits apiece. On the pitching side, Daniel Castano picked up his second win of the season to improve his record to 2-5.
Saturday August 27, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 7 at Elizabethton Twins 4
The Cardinals and the Twins opened the first round of the Appalachian League playoffs Saturday evening in Elizabethton. The Twins got out to an early 2-0 lead, but the Cardinals rallied with three two-run innings on their way to a 7-4 victory.
Most the offensive damage the Cardinals made Saturday was from the middle of their order. The trio of Andrew Knizner, Josh Lopez and Bryce Denton went a combined 6-for-10 with a double, triple and home run between them.
Ross Vance made the start on the mound for Johnson City and allwed just three runs (two earned) in six innings of work. Most impressively, Vance struck out 11 Elizabethton hitters. He did not get the win, however, as that went to Levi MaVorhis. Estarlin Arias picked up a save after tossing a perfect ninth inning.
Allen Cordoba. Cordoba officially won the Appalachian League batting title at the conclusion of the regular season on Thursday. The Johnson City shortstop hit .362 to capture his second batting title in as many seasons. Cordoba was also a major base-running threat for the Cardinals, totaling a team-high 19 stolen bases.
Matt Fiedler. After struggling at the plate through the first handful of games, Matt Fiedler has turned into one of Johnson City’s most consistent hitters. Fiedler, the reigning Big 10 Player of the Year out of Minnesota, finished the season with a .325 batting average (fourth in the Appy League), 20 doubles (led the league) to go along with four home runs and 31 RBI.
Frederis Parra. Parra won the Appy League’s ERA title at 2.53. Of his 10 starts this season, eight were quality starts with five lasting at least seven innings.
There were no injuries last week.
Appalachian League Western Division Standings
Johnson City will look to continue its road to its fourth Appy League championship in the past seven seasons. The Cardinals will continue their first round playoff series with the Twins Sunday and Monday if necessary in Johnson City. If they come out victorious against Elizabethton, they will face either Burlington or Princeton.
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