fielder Shaun Boyd, left,
from reliever Josh Kinney
for scoring the tying run
in the bottom of the ninth
inning, and for his amazing
catch in the sixth.
The Springfield Cardinals' race for the Texas League East Division title ended on Tuesday night with a 7-2 loss to Wichita, but it seemed as nobody bothered to tell the Cardinal players as they fought back from a tie and a deficit to beat the Arkansas Travelers 5-4. And nobody seemed to have informed the fans that the game meant nothing as well over 8,000 fans streamed through the gates to watch the first of a five-game series with the second-half champion Travelers.
The Cards hit the field running on Wednesday night as they tagged Arkansas starter Ken Olenberger for three runs in the first inning. Brendan Ryan and Travis Hanson both hit singles and Cody Haerther sent a two-out shot groundball to shortstop David Matranga, who bobbled the ball, loading the bases. Gabe Johnson then got a clutch single scoring Ryan and Hanson. Ty Parker came to the plate and delivered an RBI single to drive in Haerther for a 3-0 lead.
Springfield starter Stuart Pomeranz threw three 1-2-3 innings before giving up a lead-off triple to Reggie Willits to open the fourth inning. Jason Aspito later drove in Willits as the Travs made it 3-1. One out later, Shaun Boyd, the Cardinals center fielder made what was the catch of the night, if not of the season. With perfect timing, and a leap that would make Jim Edmonds jealous, Boyd grabbed a ball that had home run written all over it and prevented it from going over the fence. The catch garnered Boyd a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd of 8,039 elated fans.
Pomeranz gave up another run in the sixth when Matranga hit a single to open the inning and was driven in by a Willits RBI single, making it 3-2. Pomeranz worked eight innings surrendering just two runs on four hits and had eight strike outs for the night. In the ninth Pomeranz was replaced by Cory Doyne who managed to give up a pair of home runs to Kendry Morales and Mike Eylward, giving Arkansas a 4-3 lead.
But the Cards got a break in the bottom of the ninth when Shaun Boyd hit a one-out groundball to third baseman Greg Porter who threw the ball over the first baseman's head. Brendan Ryan then received a walk and Rick Ankiel struck out for the second out of the inning. Down to their last out, Travis Hanson followed Ankiel to the plate and swung at the first pitch delivered by Travs' reliever Alex Serrano. In true hero fashion, Hanson hammered the ball to right-center field, scoring Boyd and Ryan to bring in the tying and winning runs. For Hanson, who went 3-4 on the night, it was his 95th RBI, a Texas League leading best.
Tonight (Thursday) the Cards face the Travelers again in the second game of the five-gme home-stand. Mark Nussbeck (2-0) will take the hill for the Cards to face Arkansas' Willie Collazo (1-4). Game time is 7:10 p.m. and gates open at 6:10 p.m. Tickets are available at the Hammons Field Ticket Office, by calling (417) 863-2143, or online at www.springfieldcardinals.com.
The game can be heard live on KWTO JOCK 98.7 FM or online at www.springfieldcardinals.com.
YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST: Though no one in the Springfield Cardinals' organization could verify it, several fans at Tuesday night's game insisted that former St. Louis catcher Tom Pagnozzi would be on hand at Wednesday night's game to sign autographs. According to these "fans-in-the-know," Kinkos of Springfield will have an information booth set up outside the stadium and Pagnozzi will be helping with their promotion. He is scheduled to be there from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., according to Jennifer, a fan who works for a Springfield company that is a regular customer of Kinkos.
"They (Kinkos) contacted me offering me tickets to tonight's game and an informational flyer about Tom Pagnozzi being at their tent to sign autographs," Jennifer said during a break in last night's action. "I plan on being there and I plan on seeing Tom Pagnozzi."
Pagnozzi's nephew, Matt Pagnozzi, also a catcher, played several games for the Springfield Cardinals, but was recently re-assigned to Palm Beach Single-A Cardinals.
You can write John Brayfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.