Dateline: Browns Chapel
The Cards went back on the road to play a makeup game against the Royals. Rumors around the field suggested that a Cards win would clinch the pennant. It was excellent weather, but some Cards fans appeared nervous as the both of the team’s two losses had occurred on this field.
In the top of the first, Conor led off with a walk and he stole second and third. Darron then drilled a long double to center to score Conor. Ian smashed a single for an RBI to score Darron. Conor struck out the first batter and Keegan made a nice play at second on a sharp smash to second base for out two. The next batter was hit by a pitch and then a bloop double to left scored a run. Conor settled down and got the next batter to hit a weak hopper back to the mound. After one it was 2-1 Cards.
In the second, the Cards struck quickly. Peter walked and moved to second on a wild pitch. Conor beat out an infield single and Austin walked to load the bases. Darron drilled a long shot to center for three RBI’s to clear the bases. Ian beat out and infield hit and Darron alertly scored on the throw to first. Five batters — four runs and no outs. Cards fans rejoiced. Conor walked the first batter, but when the runner foolishly tried to steal second, Ian gunned him down with a great throw to Austin who deftly applied the tag for out one. Conor walked the next batter who moved to second and third on wild pitches. He struck out the next batter for out two and the next batter hit a dribbler in front of the plate. The runner on third tried to score, but Ian applied a tag at the plate for out three. After two it was Cards 6 Royals 1.
In the third the Cards went down quietly — it was to be the only quiet Cardinal at bat all day. Conor walked a couple of batters and the Royals managed three hits to score three runs. Conor settled down and induced the next batter to fly out into a ball called out due to the infield fly rule and when a runner tried to score on a wild pitch, he was called out for a failure to slide to avoid the tag. After three it was Cards 6 Royals 4.
The Cards quickly retaliated with three runs of their own with a walk to Austin and a walk to Daron. Ian grounded into a fielders choice at second to put runners on at first and third. Jack drilled a key double to center to score Austin and Ian. Keegan walked and TJ grounded into a fielders choice to score Jack. In the bottom of the fourth, Jack came on and had some control problems. Suffice it to say that four runs scored, but this reporter notes that Darron made his first appearance of the year and didn’t look bad at all. Suddenly, the Cards were in a one run game with the score Cards 9 Royals 8.
The Cards didn’t seem phased as they came up in the fifth. Conor hit a sharp single to right. Darron walked and Ian blasted a long shot off the center field fence to score Conor and Darron. Jack and Keegan walked to load the bases with one out. TJ then tried to avoid a pitch and the ball glanced off his bat as he was falling away from the plate. Of course the ball went right in front of the plate where the catcher touched home and then threw to first for what strikes this reporter as one of the strangest double plays he’s ever seen. Ian walked to the mound in the bottom of the fifth for a shot at yet another save. He got the first batter to ground out to Austin who made a nice play on the grounder. The next batter just beat out an grounder to Austin at short. The next batter was hit and then a walk loaded the bases with one out. Ian settled down and got the next batter to ground out to Keegan at second for out two (a run did score on the play). Ian threw three pitches to strike out the next batter. After five it was Cards 11 Royals 9.
In the unlimited run inning the Cards added some key insurance runs. Peter led off with an extremely long blast to right for a clean triple. Conor singled to score Peter. Austin and Daron walked and Ian grounded out into a fielders choice at second to score Conor. Jack beat out an infield single to score Austin. TJ smashed a two RBI single to right to score Ian and Jack. Peter then got his second hit of the inning and Conor walked to load the bases with two outs. Austin walked to score TJ and Darron smashed his second bases-loaded double of the day for RBI’s number 5,6 and 7 by scoring Austin, Conor and Peter. When the dust had settled the Cards had increased the lead with nine additional runs. In the bottom of the sixth, Ian struck out the Royals leadoff hitter, got the next batter to ground out to the mound, and, after a walk, got the last batter to hit a chopper to TJ at second. TJ moved swiftly to his right, made a great backhanded stab and flipped calmly to Austin for out three. Final Score Cards 20 Royals 9.
Coach Goldstein said, “Again a big day for the guys behind the plate. I don’t think we gave up any runs on wild pitches and I was thrilled to see Ian gun down that runner.”
Coach Grossman said,”Today the story was all about our offense. Darron really hit the ball well with seven RBI’s but Ian’s blast to center and his day of five RBI’s shouldn’t be forgotten. Also, Peter’s triple was fabulous and I’m glad we were able to find the ball he used to hit that triple. “
This reporter asked Coach Grossman how it felt to win the league pennant. “Well, I’m certainly very proud of our team. We have worked hard and it sounds like a cliche but the truth is that hard work pays off and our guys should be very proud of how much they have improved and are really playing together. I knew we had a solid nucleus at the start of the year and I can’t say enough about how well we have come together. We’ll start to get ready for the Starliper tournament, but I really hope each player takes some time and just enjoys the accomplishment of finishing in first place — trust me it doesn’t happen every season and its certainly an accomplishment that deserves some real praise. I also want to thank all of our assistant coaches as we really couldn’t have done it without them.”
The Cards close out their regular season schedule with a game on Thursday and Saturday.