Dateline: Stratton Woods
The Cards went on the road to play the Pirates in Stratton Woods. After a light rain earlier in the day, the weather was bright and sunny by game time. Conor led off with an infield hit and stole second. Austin walked. Ian hit a popup in front of the plate where the catcher fielded it and made a nice throw to third to get Conor for out one. Robbie singled to load the bases. Jack walked to score Austin. Peter walked to score Ian. Keegan walked to score Robbie. Aaron hit a popup to third and for some reason unknown to this reporter Coach Grossman sent Jack home on the fly ball with only one out. The ball was caught and the Pirates threw to third for out three. Conor went to the mound and threw heat to strike out three Pirates. A walk and a single did produce a run so after one it was 3-1 Cards.
The Cards continued with more offense in the second. Greg walked and stole second. TJ walked. Conor grounded into a fielders choice for out one. Austin walked to load the bases. Ian hit a huge two run RBI single to score TJ and Conor. Robbie walked. Jack grounded out to short but Austin scored. With Ian on third, Coach Grossman had him grab a big lead and the pitcher alertly picked him off of third. In the bottom of the second, Conor struck out two batters and got a third to hit a weak popup to Robbie who made a nice catch. A couple of walks and a misplayed ground ball resulted in two unearned runs for the Pirates. After two it was 6-3 Cardinals.
The Cards went down quietly in the third with the only excitement being that Aaron was hit by a pitch, shook off the pain and stole second immediately. In the bottom of the third, Greg made his pitching debut for the Cards. He looked sharp as he struck out two, but four walks and a single did result in two runs. Robbie came with the bases loaded and two outs and walked one batter, but settled down and struck out the next batter for the last out of the inning. After three, it was a thriller Cards 6 Pirates 6.
The Cards poured on the offense in the fourth. Conor led off with a single, Austin singled and Ian hit a huge single to left to score Conor. Robbie singled to score Austin. Jack singled to score Ian. With two outs Keegan got the Cards their sixth hit of the inning with a hot smash to left to score Robbie. Robbie continued on the mound in the fourth and gave up three walks to load the bases and struck out one batter. With one out the next batter drilled a hard grounder to short. Jack made a nice play as he fielded the ball, tagged the runner move to third and fired to first for an exciting inning ending double play. At the end of four it was Cards 10 Pirates 6.
Due to time constraints the fifth was deemed the last inning. Aaron led off with a walk, Greg hit a solid single to center and TJ hit a long shot to center that the outfielder backed up and barely caught. Conor singled to load the bases. Austin popped up to short and Aaron alertly tagged and at third and scored to give Austin the RBI. Ian drilled a single to left to load the bases, but Cards bats were quiet after that. Ian came on in fifth and walked the first batter. On the next pitch, the ball ticked off Robbies glove and landed a couple of feet near home. Robbie picked up the ball and the Pirates sent their runner to second. Robbie fired to Conor at second and the runner was out by several feet. It was a fantastic throw and catch for out one. Cards fans rejoiced as Ian struck out the next batter. The next batter hit a hard chopper to Austin who was a third. He made a nice stop and fired to first and in a bang-bang call the ump said the runner was safe. With two outs, Ian calmly struck out the next batter to end the game. Final score: Cards 11 Pirates 6.
Coach Goldstein said, “I really liked how our defense looked today. We gave up very few errors and we have a come a long way in a short time. I am sure we’ll keep improving with each game.”
Coach Grossman said, (during an interview while the team was happily munching post-game Pizza in honor of Ian’s birthday) “Any time you can hold one of the top offenses in the league to only six runs, its a tribute to your pitching and defense. I like how Greg looked on the mound and I’m happy to see that we really have some depth in our bullpen. TJ’s shot to center was extraordinary and Jack’s double play was a key turning point in the game.”
This reporter asked Coach Grossman why he would send Aaron on a routine fly with one out and why he managed to get Ian picked off of third. He said, “Here you go again with your questions. I am so tired of reporters pointing out honest mistakes. Every now and then I make a mistake and the key is just to learn from it and move on. I like how our team is progressing and I’m looking forward to playing the White Sox on Saturday.”
A few tickets remain for the long awaited rematch against the White Sox. The last game against the White Sox was a thrilling 11-11 tie.