Inning after inning, the scoreboard at Roger Dean Stadium was laced with zeros.
With Brevard County southpaw Jed Bradley and Palm Beach right-hander Thomas Lee dealing on the mound, it took until the 11th frame for the Class A Advanced Cardinals to walk off with the 1-0 victory. Though the teams combined for just seven hits before extras, Lee hadn't realized how much of a pitchers' duel it was.
"I didn't really pay attention too much about how his outing was going. Obviously just from me not being in the dugout for very long, I knew he was doing well," the Cardinals prospect said. "It wasn't a matter of 'I have to do better than him,' just that I have to throw strikes and get my team back out there so they can go and hit. For me personally, when I think about the other guy and trying to do better, it throws me off my game."
Concentrating on the away halves of the frames, the Sonoma State product allowed three hits over a career-high eight innings, inching a step closer to his personal goal of hurling nine frames in pro ball.
"I was really focusing today, not really thinking too much [because] I was on the same page with my catcher [Casey Rasmus]," Lee said. "I'm not a guy who is known for his velocity, so just being able to go to the corners and add and subtract from my pitches."
The 24-year-old was reminded of his final college start -- another duel which resulted in a walk-off win for his team after he was done for the night.
Bradley was fueled by the competition, adding that he always wants his opposing pitcher to do well, but "maybe not that well" he said with a laugh.
"I try to stay the same the whole time I am out there as far as intensity from pitch one to when they take the ball away," the Brewers prospect said. "But you definitely feel your heartbeat speed up as the innings go on, especially in the ninth inning."
The Georgia Tech product scattered four hits while striking out three over a career-high nine innings. Bradley gave up three of the hits early before pitching perfect sixth, seventh and eighth frames. He yielded a leadoff single in the ninth, but then forced three groundouts to end his night.
"If I was back in Little League, I would've wanted to go out for the 10th, but they don't let you do that at this level," he said.
After Bradley and Lee were done for the night, the relievers kept the game scoreless until the bottom of the 11th. Bruce Caldwell and Breyvic Valera led off the frame with a pair of singles and advanced on a bunt by Ildemaro Vargas. After an intentional walk issued to Starlin Rodriguez, Luke Voit came up with the bases loaded and one out.
In his first game back since extended spring training, Volt singled in Caldwell to notch his first hit for Palm Beach and win the game.
"I was really happy to see that in his first game up. … He was really happy, along with everyone else, that we were able to score in that game," Lee said. "Honestly, it was a good game for us just because it felt like we needed a strong outing from our pitching staff. We've had some pretty good outing from our pitchers, but we've come up short. Just being able to go out there and put up zeros, help our teammates not be stressed out about scoring [is big]."
On the mound in the 11th, Stephen Peterson (0-2) yielded the game's only run on three hits and a walk while recording one out.
"My team left it all out on the field. They were grinding every at-bat, every play," Bradley said. "We can hang our hat on knowing we played a great game."
Palm Beach reliever Christopher Thomas (1-0) allowed three hits while striking out one in a frame.