Thursday, July 30, 2009

Paducah 12, Metcalfe County 1 ...

Paducah Post 31 advanced to the winners' bracket final of the McDonald's American Legion baseball state tournament, beating Metcalfe County 12-1 in a six-inning game called on account of rain.

A thunderstorm hit as the seventh inning was about to start, with Metcalfe County three outs away from being beaten by the 10-run mercy rule. After consulting with tournament officials, both coaches agreed to declare the game over.

The decision especially benefits Metcalfe County, which has to turn around quickly nd play Danville today at 12:30 p.m. in an elimination game.

Tyler Johnson, Alex Harper and Luke Shuemaker each drove in three runs for Paducah. Kyle Courtney tossed three innings in relief of Cody Forsythe and Rex Walton got out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the sixth.

Paducah still has its top two pitchers, lefties Forsythe and Allen Haase, available for today's winners' bracket final with Shelbyville. The winner advances to the championship round, which begins on Friday night.

Owensboro and Ashland meet in this morning's elimination game, followed by Danville and Metcalfe County. The two winners meet in the losers' bracket final in tonight's final contest.

Metcalfe County (22-14) 000 100 1 2 2
Paducah (35-10) (10)00 200 12 9 0

Warriner, McFall (2) and Downey; Forsythe, Courtney (3), Walton (6) and Barrett.

WP: Courtney. LP: Warriner.

2B: P-Johnson, Harper, Shuemaker. 3B: none. HR: none. Top hitters: P-Johnson 2-4 (3 RBI), Harper 2-4 (3 RBI), Shuemaker 1-3 (3 RBI).

Today's schedule:

Owensboro vs. Ashland, 9:30 a.m.
Danville vs. Metcalfe County, 12:30 p.m.
Shelbyville vs. Paducah, 4:30 p.m.
Losers’ bracket final, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Holliday a Cardinal ...

Could outfielder Matt Holliday, acquired from Oakland on Friday for three minor leaguers, be the player that puts the St. Louis Cardinals over the top in the National League Central?

Chances are ... yes.

Give the Cardinals' embattled front office some credit. Stung by fan criticism for not spending money to help the team as some would like, general manager John Mozeliak has plugged two big holes in the lineup with Mark DeRosa and Holliday, with neither coming at a prohibitive cost.

DeRosa cost the Cardinals reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later that figures to be another relief prospect, either Triple-A closer Jess Todd or wild (35 walks in 38 innings) Double-A closer Francisco Samuel.

Holliday's cost is certainly higher — Brett Wallace, last year's first-round draft pick, pitcher Clayton Mortensen and outfielder Shane Peterson, who was a second-round pick last year. Mortensen looks like a so-so prospect at best and Peterson is a 21-year-old outfielder that has spent most of the season in Class A but looks like an extra guy at best.

Wallace is the key. He's just 22, but at 6-1 and 245 pounds, doesn't project as a major league third baseman in the eyes of a lot of baseball people. If he ends up as a first baseman or designated hitter, as some expect, he doesn't have much of a future in St. Louis.

We'll address the deal a little more in my major league baseball column on Monday.

Legion district tournament, day 2 ...

We're down to the match up that everyone expected, with Mayfield and Lyon County colliding with a berth in next week's state tournament on the line.

Mayfield will trot ace Roman Kelly to the mound, with lefty Andrew Schultz on call in relief. Lyon County will go with lefty Robert Thomas, with Ramsey Walker available in relief and, perhaps, Jacob McMican and Donald Bush able to bounce back after pitching on Wednesday.

Lyon County has beaten Mayfield three times this summer, including a 3-2 decision on Wednesday. Lyon County coach Jason Wilson expects no surprises.

"We've seen all they've got in pitching, I'm sure," Wilson said Thursday. "We didn't see Kelly in the first two games, but we saw him for an inning (on Wednesday). They say it's hard to beat a team three times. The fourth one won't be any easier."

At this point, the Aces seem to have an edge, both in terms of hitting and pitching depth, and are probably the team better-equipped to be competitive in the state tournament.

• Mayfield teammates Roman Kelly and Joe Mike have finalized their college plans — they will be teammates at Freed-Hardeman. They will be joined there by Marshall County first baseman Daniel Riley.

• New Marshall County coach Bill Thorpe was on hand to watch Tri-County's final game of the season, and with a great deal of interest — several Tri-County players figure to be key contributors on the new-look Marshals next summer. Marshall will defend its regional title only returns a handful of players who saw part-time action in pitcher-third baseman Garrett Hunt, pitcher Andrew Edwards and outfielders Blake Turner, Blake Sullivan, Nick Forte and Alex Helm.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lugo-Duncan trade could help Cardinals ...

Both teams rid themselves of non-contributors when the St. Louis Cardinals sent slumping outfielder Chris Duncan (1-for-32 since June 29) to the minors and later to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for deposed and oft-injured shortstop Julio Lugo, who long ago lost his job and was designated for assignment a few days ago.

The move could reshape the Cardinals' lineup in a positive way. Lugo could end up seeing significant time at second base, perhaps moving Skip Schumaker back to the outfield.

Schumaker was moved to second base this spring, but his defense has been lacking. Most defensive rating systems have Schumaker at the bottom of the pack, and that really shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.

Plus, left field hasn't exactly been a productive position for the Cardinals. Rick Ankiel and Nick Stavinoha have seen the most time out there lately, but Ankiel hasn't been the same since banging his shoulder in a scary collision with Busch Stadium's centerfield wall while making a catch in a May 4 loss to Philadelphia. Since then, he's hit .188 with three home runs in 149 at-bats.

Playing Lugo at second would certainly solidify the Redbirds' infield defense, and left field is Schumaker's best position.

Lawson gets Mayfield job ...

Misty Pierceall Lawson, one of the better players in Mayfield's girls' basketball history, has been named as the Lady Cardinals' new coach. Lawson, a longtime assistant, will replace former head coach Don Hubbard, who will be the school's new principal.

Lawson was Hubbard's top assistant for several years, but sat out last season after having a second child and was planning on returning to the bench next season.

She was the lead guard on Mayfield's 1994 squad that reached the semifinals of the All A Classic state tournament and later knocked off Marshall County in the first round of the district tournament; a win that sent shockwaves through the First Region. Lawson later played four seasons at Murray State.

We'll have more on the hiring in Friday's Sun.

Legion district tournament, day 1 ...

Paducah Post 31 bombed Tri-County 15-5 in eight innings in a game that ended after midnight Thursday morning to complete the first round of the District 1 American Legion baseball tournament at Brooks Stadium. Paducah will meet Lyon County in Thursday night's winners-bracket final, with Mayfield taking on Tri-County in an elimination game.

Derek Roof and Kyle Courtney took the mound for Post 31, saving lefties Cody Forsythe and Allen Haase for the next two contests. As the host team, Paducah has an automatic bid to next week's state tournament at Brooks Stadium, but Post 31 is also hoping to extend its streak of nine consecutive district titles — Princeton prevailed in 1999 en route to a state runner-up finish.

Here are some extra news items from the first round:

• Derek Roof signed a letter-of-intent with Indiana this week, becoming the fourth member of his family to play in the Big Ten Conference. Cousin Shawn Roof played at Illinois and cousins Eric and Jonathan Roof were starters for Michigan State last spring.

• Jacob McMican's catching career is probably over. His response?

"I'm not that upset about it," McMican said after pitching five innings and finishing up at second base in Lyon County's 3-2 win over Mayfield.

McMican was a catcher and pitcher at Crittenden County but caught just five games at Three Rivers Community College this spring. He saw more action as a pitcher.

"We had a Division I catcher, a guy that signed at Arkansas State," he said. "I was an innings-eater. If we were behind, I was pitching."

McMican will play for Mid-Continent next year, a program that should be on the rise given head coach Shawn Yarbrough's success in recruiting area talent. McMican said Yarbrough told him he could "be a weekday starter and I can play some at third base."

• Lyon County coach Jason Wilson said he expects to go with left-hander Ronnie Howton against Paducah, and his first-night strategy was set with an eye on Friday.

McMican, who threw 66 pitches in five innings, thinks he could "close on Friday night or start on Saturday if I needed to." Donald Bush, who threw 40 pitches in four innings, could be on a similar schedule.

• Mayfield ace Roman Kelly worked an inning on relief, taking the loss against Lyon County, and chances are Mayfield will skip him against Tri-County to save him for Friday's action.

Let's assume for a minute that Paducah beats Lyon County on Thursday night. If Mayfield then beats the Aces in Friday's elimination game, it would earn a spot in next week's state tournament.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Jones heads summer ball contingent ...

The biggest surprise among local products in summer college baseball leagues might be James Jones, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher from Ballard Memorial that just completed his sophomore season at John A. Logan.

Jones has sparkled this summer while pitching for Battle Creek (Mich.) in the Northwoods League, one of the nation's better summer leagues. Jones is 3-0 in the league's top 10 in ERA with a 1.60 mark. Control has been an issue for Jones in the past, but in 33 2/3 innings, he's allowed 27 hits to go with 10 walks and 22 strikeouts.

He was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 35th round of the amateur draft, but remains committed to Louisiana-Monroe. He originally signed with Lipscomb, but was granted a release when that school's pitching coach — with whom he had established a good relationship — left for Louisiana-Monroe.

Jones expects to pitch one year at Louisiana-Monroe with an eye toward next year's draft, but he will listen to an Indians' offer later this summer. The deadline for signing this year's draftees is Aug. 15.

Two other local players are in the Northwoods League. Michigan State shortstop Jonathan Roof (St. Mary) is hitting .336 for St. Cloud (Minn.) with 12 stolen bases. Kentucky outfielder Chad Wright (Heath) is hitting .267 for the Wausau-based Wisconsin Woodchucks and is second in the league with 18 stolen bases.

Middle Tennessee pitcher Chad Edwards (Reidland) is 1-1 with a 1.33 ERA in his second season as one of the top pitchers for Dubois County (Ind.) of the Prospect League, which merged with the Central Illinois Collegiate League last year. In 20 innings, Edwards has allowed 17 hits with four walks and 13 strikeouts.

In the Kitty League, Carlisle County product Tim Dunn is 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA for the Fulton Railroaders. In 31 2/3 innings, he has allowed 24 hits with 10 walks and 32 strikeouts. He is in the Kitty League's top 10 in ERA. Dunn, who was drafted by Cincinnati last month, will meet with the Reds to discuss a potential signing later this summer.

Heath product Drew Williams, who plays at Morehead State, is struggling this summer, hitting .111 for the Maroion Bobcats after sitting out the college season in the spring with a broken wrist.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Minor leaguers update ...

Heath product Clint Tilford made his professional baseball debut over the weekend for the Casper Ghosts (I'm not making it up) in the rookie-level Northwest League. Tilford, a pitcher drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 31st round after spending three years at the University of Kentucky, worked three innings, allowing two hits and one earned run with one walk and four strikeouts. He also picked up the win in relief.

Former Murray State lefty Daniel Calhoun has been very good in his first two outings, allowing just one hit in six scoreless innings for the Batavia Muckdogs (not making that one up, either), the Cardinals' rookie-level team in the New York-Penn League.

Brandon Braboy, another Heath graduate, is having a good season for Charleston, the Yankees' entry in the low-Class A South Atlantic League. Braboy is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in relief, has allowed just 35 hits in 43 2/3 innings and has an impressive 41-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Mike Broadway, the former Pope County star, is struggling at Myrtle Beach, the Braves' high-Class A team in the Carolina League. Broadway is 1-7 with a 6.98 ERA with 23 walks and 22 strikeouts and 38 hits allowed in 29 2/3 innings.

St. Mary products Shawn and Eric Roof are in the Detroit Tigers organization. Shawn Roof, who played collegiately at Illinois, is playing shortstop at Double-A Erie, hitting .259 with 14 RBI and three stolen bases in 116 at-bats. Eric Roof, drafted as a catcher out of Michigan State, is 1-for-13 with two RBI for Oneonta of the New York-Penn League.