The Springfield Cardinals won their first-ever Texas League Championship with a 2-1 victory over the Frisco RoughRiders on Saturday night at Dr. Pepper Field. Starter Scott Gorgen and shortstop Greg Garcia led the way in the Game Four win in the best-of-five series.
Springfield threatened right away. In the first inning, Jermaine Curtis walked and Oscar Taveras followed with a double. After a Jamie Romak strikeout, Greg Garcia was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Xavier Scruggs fanned for the third out.
Gorgen pitched into trouble in the third, allowing a double and walk to put runners on the corners with no one out. He managed a fielder's choice, a shallow pop up and a ground out to escape the jam.
With the scoreboard still full of zeroes in the fifth, the Cardinals had already stranded seven runners. Garcia changed that as he plated Jermaine Curtis with a one out single.
Gorgen got into another jam in the bottom of the fifth, with runners at second and third with one out. This time, he secured a line out and a groundout to keep Frisco scoreless. Gorgen, our Player of the Day, pitched through the sixth on just 87 pitches, allowing only four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
Springfield added a huge insurance run in the eighth as designated hitter Mike O'Neill reached on a two-out walk, stole second and moved to third on an errant throw. Kolten Wong broke his bat on a ground ball to second base that was misplayed, allowing O'Neill to score. What became the winning run was unearned.
After three strikeouts and a harmless single off Michael Wacha in the seventh, Eric Fornataro allowed a solo home run in the eighth to bring the score to 2-1. A base hit and a ground out had the tying run at second base. After a single, left-fielder Adam Melker made a game-saving play by throwing out the runner at the plate to preserve the one-run lead.
Keith Butler allowed a two-out single in the ninth, but coaxed a fielder's choice ground out for the 27th out and lock down the Cardinals' first Texas League Championship in franchise history. It was Butler's fifth save in Springfield's six post-season victories.
Garcia had two hits and an RBI, but also committed his sixth error of the post-season. The Cards secured the win despite striking out 10 times, going 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranding 12.
Along with Taveras, pitcher Boone Whiting won his third league championship in the last three seasons. Same for manager Mike Shildt. The players were in Johnson City in 2010 and Quad Cities last year. Shildt led JC to two consecutive Appy League titles before moving to Springfield this year.
This marks the Cardinals organization's first sole league championship at the Double-A level since 1989. The Tennessee Smokies were named co-champions of the Southern League in 2004 (due to continuous rain from Hurricane Frances) for the Cards' only other Double-A championship since 1989.
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