Fall Ball: 10/30 Practice Notes

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon out at Sunken Diamond as the Cardinal baseball team took part in another intrasquad game. Two pitchers continued their strong fall season's on the mound while a freshman outfielder is swinging a hot bat and looks poised to play a major role on this year's team. Read on for all the latest.

Today's game was another Cardinal vs. White tilt with three pitchers seeing time on the hill ...

White       0 0 0  3 0 0   -   3   4   1
Cardinal    4 0 0  0 0 2   -   6   7   0

White Team
1. Jim Rapoport, CF
2. Adam Sorgi, SS
3. John Mayberry, Jr., 1B
4. Michael Taylor, RF
5. Ryan Seawell, LF
6. Brian Juhl, C
7. Joe Ayers, 2B
8. Randy Molina, 3B
9. Jeff Boes, DH

Cardinal Team
1. Brendan Domaracki, RF
2. Chris Minaker, SS
3. Jed Lowrie, 2B
4. John Hester, C
5. Chris Lewis, 3B
6. Ben Summerhays, 1B
7. Darren Gemoll, LF/1B
8. Cameron Matthews, CF
9. Josh Corn, DH/LF
10. Zachary Gianos, DH

Of note with the White Team is that both Michael Taylor and Brian Juhl have moved up in the lineup from where they were last week.  Both players had very solid week's with the bat during intrasquad games and as such were rewarded with their position in the starting lineup.  If the season were to start today, Taylor and Juhl have to be considered the most likely freshman position players to see considerable playing time.  The right field position appears to be Taylor's to lose while Juhl has clearly solidified himself as the #2 catcher on this team.

It was a fairly quiet day for the White Team as they did all of their damage in just one of their six at-bats.  The big hit of that inning came from the freshman Taylor.  Facing Pete Duda, Taylor came up in a big spot with runners at second and third and two outs and promptly ripped a line drive into right center field to score both runners.  Taylor was able to make it into second with a sliding, hustle double.  Taylor would score the third run of the inning when the next batter, Ryan Seawell, singled to left.

Most of the offense came from the Cardinal Team today.  In their first at-bat (facing Duda), Chris Minaker continued his torrid hitting this fall with an RBI single to left.  Then the big blow came three batters later when Chris Lewis stepped up and launched a triple high off the wall in right field plating a pair of runs.  It was a scary play, however, as Taylor raced back to try to catch the ball and violently crashed into the wall.  He stayed down for a couple of minutes, but was able to remain in the game and would of course come through with the clutch RBI hit later in the contest.

Speaking of Lewis, the junior from Santa Margarita has had a very nice fall.  He's consistently been knocking out hits and has played a solid defensive third base.  He made a couple of very nice plays today over at the hot corner and at least to my eyes is clearly the favorite to start over there if the season were to begin today.  And then obviously the other three positions on the infield are solidified with Minaker at shortstop, Lowrie at second base, and Mayberry, Jr. over at first (all four players are juniors).

Other highlights for the Cardinal Team today included Jed Lowrie's 2-for-3 effort.  Lowrie ripped a double in the four-run first inning and then picked up a key single during the two-run rally in their final at-bat of the afternoon.  Nothing from this fall has indicated that Lowrie will be slowing down in 2005.  Every thing he hits is well-struck, he has a tremendous eye at the plate, and his defense over at second base is well above-average.  I guess there was a reason the Salem, Oregon native was named Pac-10 Player of the Year last spring.

Ben Summerhays also had a big hit today when he clubbed a two-run double off Jeff Gilmore to deep right center field.  Gilmore had a stellar afternoon on the mound, so the Summerhays hit was very impressive. 

Speaking of the pitchers, it was a pair of juniors in Jeff Gilmore and Pete Duda along with sophomore Blake Holler seeing time on the mound during the intrasquad game.  No changes with Gilmore's performance from past efforts this fall.  The right-hander began his outing today with 11 consecutive strikes and did not allow a run until his fifth and final inning of work.  Over his first four frames, Gilmore surrendered just a pair of singles and was in complete control.  In his fifth inning, he allowed a pair of walks and a pair of hits with two runs coming home to score (Summerhays' hit).  Overall, Gilmore struck out four batters on the afternoon.

Pete Duda struggled mightily early in his outing today as the fireballing righty was tagged for seven runs over his first two innings of work.  He did settle down to not allow a run in his final three innings.  Duda is the hardest thrower on the team, but still has to keep the ball down if he is to enjoy any success.  His location was much better in the second half of his outing and the results reflect that. 

Also of note, Duda made the defensive play of the game to finish the day.  With runners on second and third and two outs, Lewis popped up a ball behind home plate.  The catcher, Juhl, had absolutely no idea where the ball was so Duda came racing in from the mound and made a spectacular catch falling backwards just behind home plate.

And surprise, surprise, another outstanding outing for the southpaw Holler.  He went just three innings today, but retired all nine hitters he faced.  Four by strike out and five via the ground out.  Holler had been having some difficulty with his control earlier in the fall, but that was definitely not the case today.  He was attacking the strike zone early in the count and as a result did not walk a single batter in his three innings.  I've been writing about it all fall, but Holler's stuff right now looks tremendous.  The numbers also reflect this as in his four appearances during fall intrasquad games, Holler surrendered just one run in 13 2/3 innings with 21 strike outs to his credit.  I don't know if Holler is going to be a starter, closer, or long reliever this season, but whatever it is, expect to see #34 in plenty of key games this season.

Mark Romanczuk is the fourth pitcher in this pitching group, but the junior lefty did not throw in the game today.  The coaching staff has been taking it easy with Romanczuk this fall with the high number of innings he's thrown over the last year.  He made just two appearances this October totaling four innings.  Come January though, Romanczuk should be good to go as one of Stanford's top hurlers.

******

A few notes from Wednesday's intrasquad game (the team did not play games on Thursday or Friday):

* Big day at the plate for Lewis as he finished 3-for-3 with a double to deep right field and a pair of singles.  Minaker (2-for-3, 2B) and Rapoport (2-for-3) also had multi-hit games.

* Taylor had the defensive play of the game when on a towering Lowrie fly ball to right, he made a leaping catch as he crashed up against the wall.  It did not appear that the ball was going to go over the fence, but it was awfully close and a tremendous play from the freshman as he robbed Lowrie of an extra-base hit.

* Logan Ardis had a solid performance on the mound.  The sophomore tossed five innings with just one earned run allowed.  Not overpowering (zero strike outs), but just one walk and he was able to get the job done.  Freshmen David Stringer and Rex Petrill also threw and each enjoyed decent amounts of success.  Of this pitching group, Ardis looks to clearly be the most likely to see any time on the hill this season.

******

Tomorrow (Sunday) marks the final day of official fall practice with the team scheduled to play an intrasquad game.  Unofficial workouts will take place at Sunken Diamond after Sunday until the end of the academic quarter before official preseason practice (with intrasquad games) begins in early-January.

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