April 8, 2005 - Arkansas starter Joe Saunders (1-0) pitched five scoreless innings to set the tone, as the Travelers held on for a 4-1 victory over the Springfield Cardinals on Friday night at Ray Winder Field in Little Rock.
The Arkansas bullpen was steady, holding the Cards to just one run over the final four innings to give the Travelers their second straight win.
Springfield starter Buddy Blair allowed the Travs to take the early lead, as Mike Napoli's solo shot in the second gave them a 1-0 advantage. In the fifth, Blair (0-1) gave up a bases loaded single to Alberto Callaspo as Arkansas jumped in front 2-0. Cards reliever Josh Axelson came on with the bases loaded and no outs and performed brilliantly. He struck out Erick Aybar for the first out of the inning, then got Napoli to ground into the inning-ending double play to keep the defecit at two.
The Cards finally got to the Travs pitching staff in the eighth, as Reid Gorecki broke up the shutout with a drive off the top of the wall in centerfield, scoring Milko Jaramillo from first. However, with Gorecki at second base representing the tying run, left fielder David Gates robbed Cards third baseman Travis Hanson of the game-tying hit, making a diving catch in left field to retire the side.
The Travs added to their lead as Gates crushed a two-run homer off Cards reliever Andy Cavazos, making it 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth.
In the ninth, Springfield began to rally against reliever Von Sterzbach. With two outs, Andy Schutzenhofer singled to right field. After Tyler Minges walked on a 3-2 pitch, Matt DeMarco came to the plate representing the tying run. DeMarco slapped a ball to the right side of the infield, that was stopped by the back hand of first baseman Greg Porter. His underhanded flip to Stertzbach ended the game, giving Stertzbach his second save in as many nights.
The Cardinals return home for their regular season home opener on Tuesday, April 12th. Tickets are still available by calling (417) 863-2143, or by visiting www.springfieldcardinals.com.
All Springfield Cardinals games are broadcast live on JOCK 98.7 FM as well as online at www.springfieldcardinals.com.