Rain has plagued the Springfield team all year. The team was even snowed out at the beginning of the season. But all hats are off to the fans, the ground crew and the team itself for bearing with mother nature for one hour and forty minutes as the rain pelted the field and the entire stadium. Ok, eat a few hot dogs, drink an extra cold frosty one or two, take some extra time in the gift shop, whatever it takes. Anything but watching the St. Louis Cardinals lose to the last place Buckoos on the giant replay board. The grounds crew did a remarkable job of getting the water off of the field. The fans proved their tenacity by staying around as a 7:10 p.m. start time turned into an 8:50 start time. And the team, well what can I say, the Springfield Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the five-game series by beating the Tulsa Drillers 4-3 in a come from behind win that poured sunshine all over the crowd and sent everyone home happy and ready for game two.
And the game two win on Thursday night goes strictly to the skipper, Pop Warner for his magnificent decision to punch up the defense in rightfield in the late innings. Springfield got on the board early scoring one in the first and two in the third to lead the Drillers 3-0. Starting pitcher P.J. Walters pitched six strong innings but was lifted in the sixth for reliever Jason Mott after Walters allowed Christian Colonel to reach second base on a ground-rule double. Colonel then scored on Matt Millerâ€™s two-out RBI single, making it a 3-1 game. Colonel delivered again in the eighth, smashing a game-tying two-run homer against Motte, making it 3-3.
Matt Scherer (2-0) replaced Motte in the eighth, with two men on base and only one out, after Warner made a double-switch replacing Amaury Marti in rightfield with Reid Gorecki, who would bat in the number nine spot, and sending Scherer to the mound to hit in the number four spot. Tulsa's Chris Frey tried to bloop one in front of Gorecki, but Gorecki raced in to make a diving catch (way to go Pop). From his knees, Gorecki then fired to first base to double off Matt Miller, ending the eighth inning with the score tied.
Scherer retired the side in the ninth and Tulsa reliever Jarrett Grube came on In the bottom of the ninth with the score tied 3-3. Grube got Juan Lucena to hit a soft grounder to first base for the first out and struck out Gorecki for the second out. Colby Rasmus then came to the plate and blasted a 392 foot home run over the right center field, to give the Cards a win and a 2-0 lead over the Drillers in the Texas League Northern Division Championship series.
The series now moves to Tulsa with a game on Friday night and Saturday if necessay. If Tulsa wins the next two at home, the series will move back to Hammons Field on Sunday.
Springfield finished the second half of the season with a 37-32 record, 2.5 games ahead of second place Tulsa, who finished with a record of 34-34. Arkansas came in third in the Northern Division with a 34-36 record and Wichita was dead last with a 31-39 record and 6.5 games behind Springfield. This was the final year that the Kansas City Royals Double-A Team will play in Wichita and will be performing next year in Springdale, Arkansas as the newly named Arkansas Naturals.