Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 24

A 2-1 win over Frisco on Saturday gave the Springfield Cardinals their first Texas League Championship in franchise history.

The Springfield Cardinals captured their first Texas League pennant Saturday night, beating the Frisco RoughRiders 2-1 in Game 4 of the best-of-five series. It was a series that brought a rematch of sorts of the 2011 World Series between Springfield's parent St. Louis Cardinals and Frisco's parent Texas Rangers. Although the series didn't bring the same drama that last year's fall classic brought, the outcome was still the same.

The moment was monumental not only because it was Springfield's first league championship, but it also marked Mike Shildt and Oscar Taveras' third consecutive league titles through various minor league ranks.

Furthermore, more exciting news came when, despite the fact that he missed the Texas League championship finals due to injury, Springfield outfielder Chris Swauger was named the top offensive player of the league's postseason by Minor League Baseball. Swauger hit three home runs in Springfield's semi-finals Game 1 comeback win over Tulsa. He went 6-for-19 (.316) overall in five games as he doubled twice, scored five and drove in five.

Texas League Championship Series
Game 3 – Friday, September 14th, Springfield 1 at Frisco 5

With a 2-0 series lead heading into Friday, Springfield sent Kevin Siegrist for the opportunity to sweep the RoughRiders and claim the Texas League Championship. Siegrist wasn't able to give the Cards what they needed, though he still had a solid start, allowing just one run through the first four innings. However, he yielded two more runs on the fifth and another in the sixth for a total of four runs, three earned in 5 2/3 innings pitched. Siegrist did, however, strike out six batters in his outing.

Justin Wright entered in the sixth inning and allowed one additional run in 1 1/3 innings pitched before handing it over to Kevin Thomas, who threw a perfect eighth inning. Major League rehabber Mike Napoli finished 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

The Cardinals really struggled to get the offense going as they were without a hit against Texas League Pitcher of the Year Barret Loux until the sixth, when Kolten Wong legged out a bunt single. Two batters later, Oscar Taveras doubled to left center to plate Wong and cut the deficit to 3-1. However, the offense stopped there for Springfield as they fell 5-1, shrinking their series lead to 2-1.

Game 4 – Saturday, September 15th, Springfield 2 at Frisco 1

The Cardinals needed a great start from Scott Gorgen in game four after dropping game three. Gorgen pitched into and out of trouble in the third and the fifth, but put together a very strong start. He pitched through the sixth, allowing just four hits with seven strikeouts.

After a scoreless seventh from Michael Wacha, who struck out the side, Eric Fornataro allowed a solo homer in the eighth to Chris McGuiness to bring the score to 2-1. A base hit by Tommy Mendonca and a ground out had the tying run at second base. Jared Hoying followed with a single to left, but Adam Melker threw out Mendonca at the plate, preserving the one-run lead.

Keith Butler allowed a two out single in the ninth, but got a fielder's choice ground out from Engel Beltre to end the game and give the Cardinals their first Texas League Championship in franchise history.

Hoping to jump out to an early lead, Springfield threatened in the first inning as Jermaine Curtis walked and Taveras followed with his fourth double of the postseason. Then, Greg Garcia was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Unfortunately, Xavier Scruggs struck out to end the inning.

Still tied at 0-0 in the fifth, the Cardinals had stranded seven runners on base. Finally, Greg Garcia knocked in Curtis with a one out single to break to make it 1-0.

Springfield added a huge insurance run in the eighth as Mike O'Neill reached on a two-out walk, stole second and moved to third on an errant throw. Wong then broke his bat on a ground ball to second base that was misplayed by Leury Garcia to score O'Neill, making it a 2-0 advantage.

Who's Hot

Scott Gorgen – Gorgen delivered with exactly what the Cardinals needed as he earned the game four win as the Cardinals clinched the league title. The righty starter threw six strong innings, allowing no runs on just four hits while striking out seven batters.

Gorgen in the center of the celebration

Adam Melker – I include Melker here because he may be the unsung hero of the Championship Series for the Cardinals. After coming up with a huge hit to save the game in game two, Melker made a huge throw to erase the tying run at home late in game four to preserve the lead and potentially the win for the Cards.

Who's Not

Xavier Scruggs - 0-for-7 with six strikeouts in his final two games.

Jamie Romak – 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts in games three and four of the Texas League Championship Series

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#2 Carlos Martinez – Finished with a strong last start in his last outing in game one.

#3 Oscar Taveras – While he did hit only .235 in the postseason, Taveras still managed to continue hitting for extra bases with four doubles in nine games.

#4 Kolten Wong – Wong did not have a strong postseason, finishing with a .143 batting average.

#31 Jermaine Curtis – Curtis finished the postseason with a .212 average but was on base when the Cardinals needed him most in game four of the Championship Series.

#38 Keith Butler – Butler had a very strong postseason, going 5-for-5 in save opportunities.

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