Hearne Aims to Turn Back the Clock

The Springfield Cardinals need a big showing from their 2009 ace, right-hander Trey Hearne, in Monday's elimination game at Northwest Arkansas.

Having lost Game 4 of their best-of-five Texas League first-round playoff series at home on Sunday night to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Springfield Cardinals have been forced into a winner-take-all Game 5. The Monday night contest will be held at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Arkansas.

Scheduled starting pitchers are Trey Hearne (4-4, 4.43) for the Cardinals vs. Mike Montgomery (5-4, 3.47) for the Naturals.

It has been a rough 2010 for Hearne, but he has improved somewhat in recent weeks.

The 27-year-old Texan began the season on the disabled list of Triple-A Memphis and remained behind in Florida when the Redbirds headed north for the regular season to rehab a right shoulder ailment.

The Cardinals' 28th round selection in the 2005 draft was activated on April 21 but struggled, posting a 13.03 ERA in seven Pacific Coast League games before landing back on the DL on May 20. Hearne made just one start before being moved to the bullpen, allowing 14 runs in 9 2/3 innings total.

On June 24, Hearne was removed from the Redbirds disabled list and placed on the active roster of the A-Advanced Palm Beach Cardinals. Pitching in relief in the Florida State League, the right-hander tossed eight scoreless innings in four games. Hearne had an 11:1 strikeout to walk ratio and allowed just four hits for an opposing batting average of .148.

On July 8, Hearne rejoined Springfield, where his pitching has been uneven. As a starter, he is 2-4, 5.51, but in relief, he has an 0.90 ERA.

The low light of Hearne's 2010 with the Cardinals was his first two starts of August, during which he yielded ten earned runs in 9 1/3 innings. Moved to the pen afterward, Hearne allowed just one run in ten innings over five outings. He last appeared on September 5, when he made a three-inning start at Arkansas, giving up just one run.

Springfield was also the source of Hearne's greatest success to date as a professional.

Last season, Hearne was the starting pitcher for the North team in the Texas League All-Star Game in which he pitched two scoreless innings and was awarded the win. He was the Texas League Pitcher of the Week for the period of June 22-28, 2009.

Hearne won six consecutive starts from last June 11 through July 12, during which time he posted a 1.79 ERA over 40 1/3 innings. He was also named the Cardinals organization's Pitcher of the Month for June 2009.

During the season, Hearne tied for the Texas League lead in wins with 12 and his 2.82 ERA was second among qualifiers. He tied for the league lead in shutouts (one) and also was first in the circuit in walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) at 1.22 and winning percentage at .800.

Across the Cardinals minor league system, Hearne was first in wins with 14 and innings pitched at 154 1/3 and was fifth in ERA. He ended his season with an exclamation point, with 16 consecutive scoreless innings. Hearne also made four starts with Memphis, going 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA.

Of course, that was last year and this year is a different time, but for Hearne, the place is the same. His Springfield teammates need the 2009 Hearne to reappear on Monday night or their 2010 season could be over.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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