By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
LINDSAY – David Jimenez, who was supposed to be well established as the Cardinals ace at this point of the season, made his first appearance on the mound. In a pressure packed situation he looked to be in control most of the time. Despite missing all non-league play. His abilities to keep the Strathmore Spartans’ batter in check led to his team grinding out a 4-3 win.
“I have been waiting for this moment for almost two months,” Jimenez said. “I feels amazing.”
A broken left hand was the reason for a two-month absence by the senior. Fortunately, the injury occurred on his non-throwing hand. Having complete use of his right hand he was able to do limited workouts. His game throwing at times had taken a hit. Although, Lindsay head coach Brett Kendig knew his pitcher wouldn’t lose his leadership.
“He is a competitor,” Kendig said. “You can see the fire in his eyes, and we really haven’t been playing with that type of intensity this season.”
Jimenez was able to get the cast off this week. While in-shape Kendig was unsure of starting him. Originally, Angel Perez was scheduled to start on the mound, but constant persistence by Jimenez saying he was ready for Kendig to decide.
“I am glad I listened to the senior,” Kendig said.
The Spartans probably wished they had faced anyone but Jimenez. Out of the 22 batters he faced, he struck out eight while only allowing one walk.
As the innings progressed Jimenez looked to gain more strength and even more confidence. In the fourth inning he struck out the last two batters. It was the first of two innings where he had multiple punch outs. But when he tried to force his pitches a bit his defense was there to back him up. The infield had seven put outs, including a double play during the fifth inning.
Not wanting to over use Jimenez, Kendig pulled him after the fifth innings. The fact the Cardinals had built up a 4-0 lead made the decision that much easier.
In the bottom of the first Lindsay scored three thanks to some aggressive baserunning. An Isaiah Duran single up the middle of the infield scored Nick Dunning to break the scoreless tie. After Duran stole second a double to left-center hit by Mark Ibarra brought him in. Three batters later a wild pitch out throw to get Ibarra at third made the score 3-0.
Lindsay also added a run in the third inning. With runners on the corners Duran was able to steal home when the Spartans tried to stop a steal attempt from Edgar Silva going from first to second. That run ended up being the winning run.
Perez entered the game in relief of Jimenez in the sixth. Right away it seemed he was not able to release the ball. Instead it looked as if he was shoving the ball, rather than throwing it. He faced six batters. Giving four of them free bases with one hit batter and three walks. The only hit he gave up was a double to left center by Jacob Flores which drove in two runs.
Jimenez reentered the game with bases loaded and one out. Striking out his first batter he committed a balk allowing a Spartan runner to score. While the run came across with him on the mound it went against Perez. The baserunner had gotten on with him pitching.
One pitch later Jimenez ended the inning with another strike out and remanded in the rest of the game.
Back on track the Cardinals will play two straight games against the Granite Hills Grizzlies. Tonight, the game will take place in Porterville. Friday night the site will be at Lindsay. Both games are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
Strathmore has their toughest East Sequoia League test yet tonight. They return home to host the Sierra Pacific Golden Bears at 4 p.m.