Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Camp, Session I

The Cardinals hosted their first of six Winter Baseball Camps last night in Merner Field House. It wasn’t the turnout that was expected but those who were in attendance, really enjoyed their time on campus. The campers participated in a variety of drills focusing on hitting, fielding and pitching skills. The night concluded with a base running/throwing combination drill and a fielding competition. It was a good opportunity for our players to interact with younger players and reinforce the skills and drills that we use in our own practices. The best way to learn something is to help someone else learn it.

A special thanks to senior/second baseman Joe Heller, who was a major help in the setting up this year's camp. As part of his school internship, Joe is responsible for organizing the camp itinerary, the worker crew and camper registration. As part of his class work, Joe will also be in charge of the remaining five sessions, including the one this Friday, which begins at 6 pm in Merner Field House.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Final(s) Countdown

It’s the last week of the trimester with only one day of class left. Finals begin on Monday which last through Wednesday and then it's we're off until January. There is not much going on in the world of Cardinal baseball however. The upperclassmen are leading the lifting groups and the guys are taking advantage of the Bulls/Sox Training Academy, but we do not begin workouts until the end of January.

But there is a lot happening in the world of Cardinal Athletics. Our football team is about to begin their playoff run on Saturday with a game against Thomas More (KY) while the men’s cross country team is off to the national meet in Hanover, Indiana. The cross-country team won its 35th straight conference title this year and is looking for lucky number “13” in the national championship department.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL THE TEAMS!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thatta Boy!

Earlier this week it was announced that my youngest brother, Andrew, was named the Ashtabula County Golfer of the Year! Karl Pearson of the Star Beacon, wrote a nice article and followed up with an interview and I have to say he did a nice job. I am not an expert by any means but Drew handled himself quite well. But I can offer one bit of advice...if you are ever talking about any of your family members, DO NOT forget to mention your mother!!!

The video footage is from late in the summer on the 18th tee at Windy Hills Golf Course in my hometown of Conneaut, Ohio. It was my last round of the summer with my dad and Drew. I wasn't posting the best score so I started to play around with the camera a little more but my dad and Drew were all square through 17 holes. I like this shot because it is different than most of the other shots I took that day. It's a short clip, but I still think it's pretty cool. Congrats Drew on a great year!

video

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembering Our Veterans

When we trace back our family roots, we will inevitably find someone who was served in the Armed Forces. My granddad served in the Army during World War II and my great-grandfather also served in the Army during the Korean War. We all probably have friends or neighbors that are serving right now. So on this Veteran’s Day, when you reflect on the sacrifices of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, take a minute to enjoy Chicago’s own Wayne Messmer and his rendition of the National Anthem at the 1991 NHL All-Star Game at Chicago Stadium (courtesy NHL.com).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Looking Ahead to Winter

That will be the one and only time I say that this year. But with the World Series ending last night and the Phillies winning it all (in about as anti-climatic of an ending as you could ask for in a one-run game), it is time to put the fall behind us.

Our winter workouts will begin on Monday with our team leaders taking charge in the weight room. The thirteen lifting captains will be in charge of making sure their group is hitting the weights hard. It is important for us to build on the momentum gained during the last few weeks of the fall season. It is only 87 days until spring training officially begins and there is a lot of work ahead of us.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fall Ball Photo Gallery

Couldn't make it out to Zimmerman Stadium this fall? Don't sweat it, check out the images of the fall with the fall ball photo gallery.

Fall Recap

With the fall season ending on Saturday with Team 1 winning the championship and the field has been put to bed until spring, now is as good as time as any to recap the play on the field this fall. Before I get into the play, the weather was unbelievable! With only three exceptions where the coaching staff (with help from the players) had to bust to get the field ready in a flash, we couldn’t ask for better conditions.

The problem with intersquad games is that for every positive thing that happens, there is usually a negative that comes with it. All three teams combined to hit .285 with 9 home runs. The hitters did a great job getting free bases. They drew 199 walks and were hit-by-pitch 28 times which out numbered the amount of strikeouts by 27. Conversely, the pitchers had trouble throwing strikes and combined with the inconsistent defense, had trouble putting zeroes on the board. A positive for the pitching staff were the number of double plays induced. Despite their below-average fielding percentage, the defense helped the pitchers erase many of their control problems with 72 twin-killings.

FALL AWARDS
Offensive Award
Dan Cladis – Dan led the fall in hits (21), runs (19) and slugging percentage (.686) and finished with a .412 average with two home runs. Cladis had a knack for driving in runs in many different situations, drove in twelve runs ranking him second on the team.

Pitching Award
Jeremiah Torres – Jeremiah, a transfer from Lincoln Community College, logged the most innings pitched (18.0), posted a 1.30 ERA with 19 strikeouts. Torres allowed only three runs in his four starts and opponents only hit .188 in 69 at-bats. Jeremiah’s fall was highlighted by a complete game shutout in the championship game.

Newcomer Award
Joe Turek – Joe started out hitting .800 during the first week and a half of the fall. After he came back to earth, Turek finished with a .362 average, seven doubles, a home run and ten driven in. Turek also demonstrated discipline at the plate, drawing 14 base on balls with only two strikeouts. Joe edged out transfer Andrew Wulbecker who got off to an 0-for-11 start to hit .333 with two home runs and 14 batted in.

The fall is just the beginning for the Cardinals. Coaches will have individual meetings with the players beginning tomorrow leading up to off-season workouts.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Fall Comes to an End

The fall season is over and at times it felt like the fall would never end. But over the past week or so of games, the play got much better. Regardless, play came to end on Saturday with Teams 1 and 2 playing for the title. The game started out to be a pitching duel between Michael McGrath and Jeremiah Torres. The game was scoreless through 3 1/2 innings until Team 1 finally broke through with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. They would add four more in the fifth to blow the game open. Team 1 added a run in the bottom of the sixth to seal the game for the 8-0 championship win. It was Team 1’s tenth win of the fall and their sixth against Team 2.

Torres had the kind of outing that solidifies a weekend rotation spot. Whether that will play out or not is yet to be determined, but he looked in control on the mound. Torres threw seven scoreless innings allowing 4 hits with 4 strikeouts and Team 2 couldn’t get anything started offensively because of Torres’ domination. Andrew Wulbecker continued to swing the bat well for Team 1 going 2-for-2 in the game with 3 RBI. Ulises Ortiz added two hits and scored a pair of runs for Team 1. In a losing effort, Dusty Gilbreth went 2-for-3 for Team 2 who managed only four hits total on the day.

The team will have some time to recharge their batteries before the seniors take control of conditioning workouts. Hopefully the play of the last few weeks can carry over into the team’s performance in the weight room. Countdown to spring training…98 days.

Friday, October 17, 2008

And Then There Were Two

We definitely took a step back with today’s play. Both teams went through the motions in this semi-final game. Team 3 played its fifth game of the week and it showed. They came out very flat, got behind early and it was over from there, losing to Team 2 14-4. Part of it was Team 2 did a nice job putting the ball in play and set the tone early scoring three runs in the top of the first. Team 3 answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning but Team 2 put up five in the top of the second. Joe Turek went 3-for-5 with two doubles, driving in four and scored three times. Brent Pearson added three hits for Team 2. Micah Yarbrough allowed four runs over five innings and handled the big lead well enough.

Team 2 will play Team 1 for the fall championship tomorrow at 8 am. Team 1 holds a 5-3 season series advantage over Team 2, including the last two games. The Tom Purcell Alumni Classic will follow the title game with a 10:30 projected start time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ready for the Weekend

For the second straight day, the level of play has been at a much higher level. I will say that most of it is directly related to the fact the points championship is on the line but I would like to think that after almost four weeks of play, things are beginning to click for some of the players.

Teams 1 and 3 would play in a double-header to decide who would get Friday off. Team 1 had a chance to clinch on Tuesday but Team 3 ended those dreams in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 victory. Team 3 looked to play spoiler again and keep their own hopes alive of winning the regular season title. They wasted little time scoring single runs in each of the first two innings. Team 1 cut the lead in half in the third but that would be all they could manage. A three-run fourth inning sealed the game, but a run in the sixth gave Team 3 two extra points. Eric Vogrin and Phil Munson paced Team 3’s offense with three hits each with Munson adding a pair of runs batted in. Ben Mottashed threw all six innings for Team 3 scattering five hits and striking out four.

The 6-1 win earned Team 3 10 total points and brought them within eight points of the lead. A duplicate performance would give them the title. The third time was the charm for Team 1, however, sending a message early that they were still the team to beat. Three runs in the first and four more in the second gave Team 1 an insurmountable lead. Although a four-run fourth cut it to a one-run game, Team 1 came right back with five runs of their own, finishing off Team 3 for a 12-7 victory. Andrew Wulbecker had himself a day with five hits on the day for Team 1.

With Team 3’s performance over the past few days, they have actually leap-frogged Team 2 in the standings to finish in second place. Tomorrow’s action will begin at 3:30 pm.

Standings.....W-L-T.....Points
Team 1.........9-7-0.......91
Team 3.........7-9-0.......78
Team 2.........8-8-0.......73

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Down to the Wire

Today was by far the best we’ve looked as a team. The games were close, the pitching was great and all three teams played with as much enthusiasm as anyone would hope to see on the field. In game one, Team 1 was looking to clinch a spot in Saturday’s Championship Game and jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a Nick Robinson RBI-groundout. It stayed that way until the fourth inning when Team 3 tied the game at a run apiece. With the game tied at one, Ryan Kosack singled in Dan Cladis with the winning run. The 2-1 victory delayed Team 1’s celebration of the regular season championship. On the mound for Team 3, Tyler Gordon scattered five hits over five innings allowing only one run and Aaron Kovac threw a scoreless sixth to earn the win in relief. Mike Kloss went the distance for Team 1 and took the loss despite allowing only three hits. Kloss hurt his own cause by walking four.

Team 3 needed the momentum from the walk-off win in game one to carry over in game two. But Team 2 took a 1-0 lead in the third thanks to a Dusty Gilbreth RBI-single. If Team 3 had its choice, it would have liked Eric Vogrin’s game-tying sacrifice fly to come in the sixth or seventh, rather than the fifth. The run scored in the bottom of the fifth which earned two points, leaving Team 3 one point short in the 1-1 final. Scott Randecker allowed one run and struck out four in six innings pitched for Team 3. For Team 2, Nate Gomez allowed a run on two hits over five innings.

The standings have tightened heading in to the final day of regular season play. Team 1 needs to split their double-header with Team 3 to win the regular season and play for the fall title on Saturday. A Team 3 sweep could earn them the crown if they can earn enough points. Meanwhile, Team 2 is idle and is guaranteed to play on Friday. The only thing in question is whether they will be the #2 seed or the #3 seed. In six previous meetings, Teams 1 and 3 have split the series with three wins apiece. The double-header will take place on Thursday beginning at 1:30 pm.

Standings.....W-L-T.....Points
Team 1.........8-6-0.......82
Team 2.........8-8-0.......73
Team 3.........6-8-0.......65

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One Week Remaining

Today begins the fourth and final week of fall practice. Double-headers this afternoon and on Thursday will conclude the regular season. At this time, each team will have played 16 games. A championship round will begin on Friday based on the final regular season records and point standings. The 3rd place team will play the 2nd place team in a 7-inning game on Friday and the winner of that game will play the 1st place team in a 7-inning game on Saturday. The championship game will precede the Tom Purcell Classic Alumni Game beginning at 8 am.

Team 3 has some work to do and will be playing in all four of the remaining games. Team 1 can clinch the top-seed and a spot in Saturday’s Fall Championship Game with a win against Team 3 in either today’s game or in Thursday’s double-header. A Team 2 loss today will knock them out of contention for the top-seed. If Team 3 wins their final four games, then they would earn a spot in Saturday's Championship Game. That was a lot to say but the good thing is that it will all be settled on the field starting this afternoon.

Standings.....W-L-T.....Points
Team 1.........8-5-0.......81
Team 2.........7-8-0.......70
Team 3.........5-7-0.......53

Tuesday Schedule (10/14)
Team 1 v. Team 3, 1:00 pm
Team 2 v .Team 3, 3:30 pm

Thursday Schedule (10/16)
Team 3 v. Team 1, 1:00 pm
Team 1 v. Team 3, 3:30 pm

Friday Schedule (10/17)
3rd Place v. 2nd Place, 3:30 pm

Saturday Schedule (10/18)
Winner Friday v. 1st Place, 8:00 am
Tom Purcell Classic Alumni Game, 10:30 am

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday Sweep

Team 1 took care of business in their double-header. In game one, they defeated Team 3 9-1, thanks in part to a 6-run fifth inning. Dan Scott, Michael Corrigan and Dave Williams each had a pair of hits and Williams also drove in two. Joining Williams in the RBI department was Joe Longawa who had a pair as well. Jeremiah Torres threw four scoreless innings allowing two hits while striking out three. Chris Slade, Ulises Ortiz and Andrew Veach closed out the game. The trio allowed just one run on five hits.

In game two, Team 1 would face-off against Team 2 in a battle for first place. Team 1 would strike first with a run in the first. The game would see-saw back and forth when Team 2 scored twice in the top of the second. Team 1 would answer with two of their own making the score 3-2 in favor of Team 1. Team 2 would come back with two more in the top of the third giving them a 4-3 lead. It would stay that way until a 4-run fifth for Team 1 broke the game open. Team 2 would add a run in the sixth but it was too little, too late. Justin Moriarty was the only one from Team 1 to post a multi-hit game and Michael Corrigan continued to swing the bat well, driving in two. For Team 2, Andrew Highland, Joe Turek and Peter Romanello each had a pair of hits.

After the sweep, Team 1 has taken a sizeable lead in the standings, but the point crown is still up for grabs. Action will pick up on Tuesday at 1:30 pm.

Standings.....W-L-T.....Points
Team 1.........8-5-0.......81
Team 2.........7-8-0.......70
Team 3.........5-7-0.......53

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Déjà vu All Over Again

For the second straight day, Team 2 defeated Team 3 in fall intersquad action. This time, it was an 11-5 outcome. Andrew Highland and Dusty Gilbreth paced Team 2 with three hits apiece with Highland knocking in two. Team 2 jumped out to a 3-0 lead when Team 3 tallied two in the top of the fourth but a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning maintained the three-run cushion. Team 2 would add on scoring runs in six consecutive innings en route to the 11-5 win.

The win actually gives Team 2 the overall points lead but they trail Team 1 by a game in the win-loss column. A double-header is slated for 10 am on Saturday.

Standings.....W-L-T.....Points
Team 2.........7-7-0.......67
Team 1.........6-5-0.......63
Team 3.........5-6-0.......52

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back in Action

Rain shortened Tuesday’s action and left the field a mess on Wednesday, but was ready in time for Team 1 to regain their lead in the fall points standings with an 11-4 win over Team 2. Andrew Wulbecker and Nick Robinson each had two hits while Lou Kalliantasis and Adam Cotteau each had a pair of RBIs. Joe Longawa pitched three innings allowing only one earned run and Edgar Chaidez pitched two scoreless innings to close out the game.

In the first game of the day, Team 2 defeated Team 3 by an 8-2 score. Peter Romanello and Adam Dobrez each had a pair of hits and Dan Cladis belted his second home run of the fall. Team 2 was aided by three Team 3 errors which led to two unearned runs in the second inning. Michael McGrath allowed both runs scored by Team 3 in three innings pitched but only one was earned. Andrew Highland and Mike Charles combined for three scoreless innings to end the game.

Action will pick up today at 3 pm with Team 2 and Team 3 squaring off. In six meetings thus far, each team has won three games apiece, with Team 3 winning three of the last four.

Standings.....W-L-T.....Points
Team 1.........6-5-0.......63
Team 2.........6-7-0.......55
Team 3.........5-5-0.......51

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Weekday Washout

We had our first run in with Mother Nature today as rain shortened the day’s double-header. The rain stayed away long enough for us to get the first game in with Team 2 defeating Team 1, 3-2 in points. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, but because the inning point totals carry over if neither team has the advantage, Team 3 earned the win. This marked the second time these two teams ended in a tie. In the opening game of the fall, Teams 1 and 2 ended the game in a 1-1 tie with Team 2 again prevailing in the point total.

Rain caused the field to be unplayable in the middle of play in game two. The matchup between Team 1 and Team 3 was scoreless in the bottom of the second and will be made up later in the fall. The forecast calls for rain through Wednesday morning which should be enough time for the coaching staff to get the field playable.

Standings.....W-L-T.....Points
Team 1.........5-5-0.......53
Team 3.........5-4-0.......51
Team 2.........5-6-0.......43

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mid-Fall Report

We are halfway through the fall and since the last report, there have been some drastic changes in the standings. Team 3 has made a charge to the top of the standings, going 4-1 on the week scoring 42 points. They sit tied with Team 1 at 51 total points who went 3-1 on the week. Team 2 fell on hard times during the second week, who were winless in five games, managing only four points and were shut out twice.

Team 1 holds the current tie-breaker having an overall win-loss record of 5-3-1 as opposed to a 5-4 overall record for Team 3. Both Team 1 and Team 3 have won the same number of innings at 26 and despite their poor record recently, Team 2 has won 25 innings.

Standings.....W-L-T.....Points
Team 1.........5-4-0.......51
Team 3.........5-4-0.......51
Team 2.........4-6-0.......40

Offense: The offense is in full swing, producing a number of runs scored in the 14 total games. 160 runs have been scored overall with eight home runs. The downside has been lack of execution with runners on base and less than two outs. With the emphasis on winning each inning, we could stand to see a few more “quality at-bats” with opportunities to move runners and drive them in.

Pitching: With over 11 runs being scored per game, the pitching staff has been under fire. The problems have resulted from inability to consistently throw strikes. The pitchers that have been around the plate have been more successful. It sounds simple but over 100 years of baseball history can’t be wrong.

Defense: The defense has been a little shaky so far. But to be fair, several players may have been playing out of position with the squad being split into three teams but the general lack of consistency may be an early cause for concern.

The sky is always darkest before dawn. So with whatever has gone wrong to this point, there is an eternity to fix them before we open the season in 2009. This game is hard enough without focusing on the negative aspects. With two weeks remaining, some players are starting to separate themselves from the pack. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the fall plays out.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Welcome to the Coach's Cave

This will be the first of many posts from inside North Central baseball. This is for Cardinal fans to get a little more insight into the program and for those future Cardinals to see what’s in store for them. Enough delay, here we go…

We are now in week three of classes and week two of fall ball and the transition from schools has been great. Coming in to a new program always has its difficulties, especially remembering the names of so many players. But after nine games, I am recognizing names from the play on the field.

As for the play on the field…The squad was split into three teams who would compete against each other for the four-week fall season. While we are still keeping score in the traditional sense, we have added a twist to make the games more competitive. We have placed an importance on winning each inning, awarding one point for each inning won in that game. Not to dismiss the final score, an extra five points are awarded to the team who wins the game. Now, looking at the box score can resemble that of a hockey game. Getting past the initial confusion, the new format has added another element to the style of game.

After nine total games, each team has played six games, thus giving us a chance to fairly evaluate each team. Team 2 is out to the early lead, but there are still plenty of games remaining for Teams 1 and 3 to catch up. Here are the point standings to date.

Standings.....W-L-T.....Points
Team 2.........4-2-0.......37
Team 1.........3-3-0.......32
Team 3.........2-4-0.......20