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By Dean Barker
The Grottoes Cardinals closed out the first half with a 13-7 win at the Elkton Blue Sox on Thursday, July 8. Grottoes sits in sixth place at 8-7, two games back of the first-place New Market Shockers. Elkton is in eighth/last place at 2-12, 7.5 games out of first.
Cardinals head coach Tim Nicely is glad his team has a winning record at the break, but hopes they will be able to do more in the second half.
“To… be above .500, you know, we’re okay with that, but we’re gonna have to be more consistent in the second half from game to game if we want to be in a better position at the end of the year,” Nicely said.
Tucker Garrison picked up the win to move to 3-2, giving up seven runs (five earned) in seven innings and striking out six. Garrison also led the Cardinals offensively, going 4-5 at the plate with five RBIs and two runs scored, one off a home run. Clayton Michael pitched the last two innings, giving up one run and striking out three. Offensively, Michael went 1-6 with an RBI and a run scored.
Seth Berry took the loss for the Blue Sox to move to 0-2, giving up ten runs (eight earned) on 13 hits in eight innings. At the plate, Berry was 1-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Will Craig gave up three earned runs on four hits in the ninth inning.
The Cardinals wasted no time getting started on offense. After Boogie Saunders was hit to lead off the first, Dylan Nicely would drive him in with an RBI double to left field. Garrison would hit a ground rule double to center field to plate Nicely, and Jacob Dansey brought him in with a double to left to make it 3-0 Grottoes.
With two aboard in the bottom of the first with no outs, a double play ball from JJ Loker looked like the break the Cardinals needed. Tristan Gordon, however, would come up to drive in Mack Rexrode and make the score 3-1.
David Wood hit a solo home run in the second, Saunders ripped an RBI single in the third, and Garrison hit an RBI double in the fourth to make the score 6-1 Cardinals. Jacob Cude led off the bottom of the fifth with a home run to center field to cut the Grottoes lead to 6-2.
Nicely would reach first with a single in the top of the sixth, and Garrison would bring him home with a single off the right field wall. In the bottom half, Gordon would reach with a single, and Berry’s triple brought him home. Gauge Jenkins would ground out to shortstop to plate another run for the Sox. After Cude and Jack Bourdon walked with two outs, a fly ball to center from Rexrode was just out of Jacob Merica’s reach, and both Cude and Rexrode would score. Coach Nicely would contest that Rexrode was out at the plate, but an umpire conference decided not to change the call, leaving the score 7-6 Cardinals.
Saunders drove in Wood with a double in the seventh, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. Garrison ripped a two out, two run homer to left center in the top of the eighth to stretch the lead to 10-6. Alex Mann would bring in Jenkins with an RBI groundout in the bottom half to cut the lead to 10-7.
With two runners in scoring position and one out, pinch hitter Andrew Baugher drove in one with an RBI single to left field, and Michael would follow up with another RBI single to left. Nicely’s sacrifice fly to left would plate Baugher to make it 13-7. Michael would strike out two and retire the side in the bottom of the ninth.
The Cardinals had three errors, leading to two unearned runs, and left nine runners on base. The Blue Sox had four errors, which resulted in two earned runs, and left six runners on base.
For Grottoes, Nicely was 2-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Saunders went 2-4 with two RBIs and one run scored. Dansey was 2-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Wood went 1-2 with one RBI and two runs scored. Baugher was 1-1 with one RBI and one run scored. The Cardinals had a total of nine hits.
Rexrode led the Blue Sox in defeat, going 3-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Cude was 1-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Jenkins went 1-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Gordon was 1-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Mann was 0-1 with an RBI. Elkton had nine hits on the evening.
Despite giving up seven runs, Coach Nicely was happy that his team was able to counter each punch from Elkton.
“I was just glad that… you know, every time they scored, we were able to (for the most part) bounce back, put a couple runs on the board, and keep the lead manageable,” Nicely said.
The Cardinals will return to action on Monday, July 12 when they travel to Stuarts Draft to take on the Diamondbacks at 7:30 pm. The Blue Sox will begin the second half on the road at the Montezuma Braves on Monday, July 12 at 7:30 pm.
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