7 July 2006

Cardinals take pair from Chatham

Two-game rematch of last year's Eastern Division final goes Orleans' way

Just like the summer season, the Orleans Cardinals are heating up.

Getting the best of their rivals in Chatham, the Cardinals snatched back-to-back wins over the A's Monday and Tuesday to raise their winning streak to five games, and give them a strong hold on the East Division lead with a 12-5 record and 24 points.

Chatham fell to 7-7-1 and 15 points.

Orleans scored five unearned runs in the fourth inning on their way to a narrow 6-5 win Monday. Cardinal Matt Wieters (Georgia Tech) was a triple shirt of hitting for the cycle and knocked in four runs, including a monster three-run homer off the band shell in right-center field.

It was Wieters' second home run in nine games. He's also batting .412 and is second on the team in RBI with nine.

Chatham was led by the bat of Corey Brown (Oklahoma State), who drove in two runs on a pair of doubles. Brown is batting a dismal .167 in fifteen games, but is tied for second in the league with seven stolen bases.

Making his first appearance of the year for the Cardinals, Manny Miguelez (Miami) picked up the win, registering three innings of work and giving up one hit and only one earned run.

In Tuesday's rematch, the Cardinals rode the arm of starter Clayton Shunick (Georgia State), who pitched eight scoreless innings while only giving up three hits to propel Orleans to a 2-0 victory.

With the win, Shunick is tied for first in the league with his three victories, against only one loss. He also boasts a 1.08 ERA in 25 innings.

But Shunick isn't the only Orleans arm that's burning up the competition.

Fellow starter Ty Davis (Vanderbilt) is fourth in the league in pitching with a 2-1 record and a 0.50 ERA. He has also struck out 21 batters in 18 innings, and will take the mound again tomorrow, July 8, against the Harwich Mariners at home.

Reliever Brett Cecil of the University of Maryland has also proved valuable for the Cardinals as a closer. Cecil is the statistically the league's best closer with five saves already under his belt. He carries a 0.66 ERA in 14 innings.

The Orleans bats haven't been as hot as the pitching, ranked seventh in the league in batting with a .216 team average. The Cardinal pitching staff is third in the league with a 2.44 team ERA in 17 games.

Orleans is scheduled to throw 2-0 Eric Surkamp (North Carolina State) against Cotuit tonight, July 7, in Cotuit. The Kettlers boast the league's best team ERA (1.89), and the best team batting average (.287).

Chatham has slowly but surely slid down the division standings, currently in third place behind Orleans and Brewster and barely ahead of Harwich and Y-D, despite the league's second-best team ERA of 2.22.

The A's have two of the league's best hitters in Chris Carrara (Winthrop), who is batting .378, and Danny Espinosa of Long Beach State, who is hitting .322. They also have two of the league's top three RBI men, with Matt Rizzotti (Manhattan) leading the way with 16 and Allan Dykstra (Wake Forest) with 11.

Dykstra is also second in home runs with four, one behind Falmouth's Warren McFadden who has five longballs.

Despite the solid individual numbers, the team as a whole is batting .236, which is only good for fifth in the league.

The A's pitching staff has been led by Ricky Hargrove (Houston), who holds a 0.54 ERA in three starts. Hargrove has only given up one earned run in more than 16 2/3 innings.

Reliever Justin Segal (UC-Santa Barbara) has also pitched well, allowing just a lone run in six appearances. He boasts a 1.04 ERA.

The A's will look to end their losing ways tonight at 7 p.m. at Veterans Field in Chatham, as they'll give the ball to Hargrove against Dan Merklinger and the Harwich Mariners.

Tomorrow, the A's will travel to Cotuit to face the Kettleers before their home doubleheader against Falmouth on Sunday. The games are at 3 and 7 p.m.

By Matt Rice