Dateline: Browns Chapel
On a foggy but pleasant day, the Cardinals started their fall AA campaign. Coach Grossman said, “I hate to make any pre-game predictions, but I like our pitching staff and we have some fine young kids just coming up from single-A. Couple that with some people who have been in AA before and we may have a great opener.”
All that being said, in the top of the first the Cards went down in order. Matthew did single to right, but he was gunned down at second as he tried to stretch the hit to a double. Curtis went to the mound and looked great. Striking out the first two batters he faced and getting the last one to ground out to the mound where he through to Matthew at first for the last out of the inning. After one it was all tied at 0-0.
In the second, the Cards again went down in order as the Yankees started was rock solid. In the bottom of the second, the Yankees threatened. After Curtis struck out the first batter, the next batter hit a solid single to center. A hit batter put runners on a first and second. The Yankees then foolishly tried to advance to third on a wild pitch. The ball ended up close to home plate, Christopher scrambled to the ball and fired to Matt. The runner was safe in a close play but his foot came off the bag and Matthew alertly applied the tag. The Cardinals rejoiced at evading the threat and after two it remained a scoreless tie.
Top of the third and the Cards offense again went down in order. It was the first game so at this point every batter had now gotten their feet wet at the plate. Bottom of the third and Matthew came on in relief. He picked up right where Curtis left off. He struck out the first two batters. A couple of infield errors put runners on at first and second. The Yankees dared not try to steal third and Matthew shook off the miscues and struck out his third batter of the inning. After three innings it was still a scoreless tie (this reporter encourages his readers to check the web site for all games played and see if Coach Grossman has ever been in a scoreless AA tie after three, because this reporter sure doesn’t remember one.).
Top of the fourth and the Cards bats went to work. Michael led off with an infield hit to third. On an overthrow he went to second. Matthew beat out an infield hit and when the Yankees infield overthrew first, Coach Grossman sent Michael home for the first run of the game. Matthew moved to third on a wild pitch. Curtis followed with an infield hit and another overthrow scored Matthew. Christopher grounded out to the mound but Curtis advanced to second. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI infield single by Isaac. When the dust had cleared the Cards had a 3-0 lead. In the bottom of the fourth, Matthew picked up where he left off and got the first batter to hit a hard shot to Christoper at first who knocked it down and stepped on the bag. Two more strikeouts and the inning was over so Matthew ended the inning with five strikeouts on the day.
In the top of the fifth, the Cardinals picked up where they left off. With one out, Troy reached on an infield single but was out at second when Michael grounded into a fielders choice. Matthew singled to put runners on at first and second. Troy, for Michael advanced to third on a wild pitch. Matthew singled to score Troy. Curtis hit a shot to center to score Matthew. Christopher singled and finally the Yankees got out of the inning. In the bottom of the fifty, Willie came on in relief. After a quick strikeout, he induced a tough chopper to Troy at second who made a nice play and threw to Christoper at first for the out. Willie settled down and struck out the next batter to end the inning. After 5 it was Cards 5 Yankees 0.
In the sixth, the Cardinals picked up some insurance runs as Kian beat out an infield hit. Nima singled and Troy singled to load the bases. Michael singled to score Kian and Matthew singled to score Troy. Curtis hit a high fly to shallow center but the Yankees outfielder made a nice catch. In the bottom of the sixth, Willie calmly made quick work of the Yankees with three quick strikeouts. Final Score: Cardinals 7, Yankees 0.
This reporter was able to find Coach Grossman briefly after the game. He said, “Its been a long road back to AA and I’m thrilled to be here. Well you couldn’t ask for a better season opener. If our guys keep throwing strikes like that and we stay that alert on defense and continue to make good throws we should have some good things happen. I want to see our guys start looking more ready to hit the ball at the plate, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.”