Stuart Pomeranz gave the Cardinals their best pitching performance of the young season so far, as the Cardinals won their first game of the 2006 season, edging the Arkansas Travelers by a final score of 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at Hammons Field.
Pomeranz (1-0) went six innings, allowing just one run on five hits in front of the third straight sell-out at Hammons. The only run that he allowed came in the sixth, as Brandon Wood's two-out double plated Aaron Peel, who reached on a two-out infield single.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Cards took advantage of the wind and some shady defense. With one out, Rico Washington and Brian Martin singled, putting runners at first and second. After a Cody Haerther fly ball to center put runners at first and third, Jarrett Hoffpauir came to the plate. Arkansas starter James Holcomb (0-1) looked as if he'd get out of the inning, as Hoffpauir popped it up down the right field line. The wind took the ball away from second baseman Casey Smith however, and the ball ended up going in and out of Smith's glove. Two runs scored to make it 2-1, as Hoffpauir ended up at third on the error.
Springfield took advantage of more Arkansas mistakes later on, adding a run in the eighth to go up 3-1. Rico Washington doubled and later scored from third on a two-out wild pitch by Tim Bittner.
Mark Worrell came on in the ninth for the Cards, but struggled to hold on to the lead. Matt Brown singled to open the inning and then moved to third on an error by right fielder Nick Stavinoha. Jason Aspito's single made it 3-2 and put the tying run at first base. After a Bobby Wilson sacrifice, Mike Eylward singled to put runners at the corners with one out. The very next batter, David Gates, apparently missed a squeeze sign, costing the Travelers a golden opportunity to tie. With the count 0-1, Jason Aspito broke from third, but Gates took the pitch looking for strike two. Cards catcher Iker Franco then charged towards third and eventually tagged out Aspito for the second out. Gates promptly struck out swinging, ending the game and giving Worrell his first save of the year.
Rich Scalamandre and Cory Doyne both tossed a scoreless inning out of the Cards bullpen. Dan Moylan led the way offensively for the Redbirds, going 3-3. Rico Washington had his third straight multi-hit game, going 2-4.
With the win, the Cards go to 1-2, while the Travs fall to 2-1. Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals and Travelers will wrap up their four-game set at Hammons Field. Mike Parisi and Chris Hunter will both make their 2006 debuts for their respective ball clubs. Sunday's game begins at 2:10pm. Shortly after the Cards game wraps up, Lebanon and Nixa will square off as part of the 2006 High School Challenge Series. Tickets are available at (417) 863-2143 and at www.springfieldcardinals.com.