The Cardinals' Class AA affiliate was down to its final four outs and trailing 4-0 when top hitting prospect Oscar Taveras connected for a double that started a game-winning and series-changing rally.
With two outs in the eighth inning Wednesday night at Hammons Field, the Springfield Cardinals struck for six runs and stole a 6-4 victory against Frisco in Game of the Texas League championship series. As the best-of-five series shifts to Frisco for this weekend, the S-Cards lead two games to none.
Springfield sent 10 batters to the plate and got five base hits, all with two outs, as they upended the Texas Rangers' Class AA affiliate.
There's something vaguely familiar about this.
Mike Napoli, the Rangers' catcher who is on a rehab assignment, homered in the game off a S-Cards reliever to put Frisco ahead 4-0. Forgive him if he's have a blinding deja vu. He's seen this before at a different level from a team wearing a similar jersey.
A day after this three-run homer iced the win in Game 1, No. 9 hitter and designated hitter Mike O'Neill opened the decisive eighth inning with a walk. Kolten Wong lined out to third and Jermaine Curtis struck out. With two outs and a four-run deficit, No. 3 hitter Taveras lashed an opposite-field double to left. Jamie Romak walked to load the bases, and then the rally really started. Greg Garcia hit an RBI single. First baseman Xavier Scruggs followed with a two-run single that cut Frisco's lead down to 4-3 and catcher Audry Perez added a two-run double that gave the S-Cards the lead. Adam Melker also had an RBI single in the mix.
Righty Seth Maness, Springfield's command man, pitched seven strong innings. He allowed two runs -- neither of which were earned -- and struck out six before turning the game over to the bullpen.
Deryk Hooker received the win in relief despite allowing Napoli's homer during his inning of work. Closer Keith Butler struck out the side in the ninth for his fourth save of the postseason and his 29th save of the season.
Game 3 is Friday in Frisco.
There will be a Game 4 and Game 5 over the weekend in Frisco if necessary. I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating: Taveras is playing for his third league championship in his past three pro seasons. In 2010, he played for the Johnson City club that won the Appalachian League's championship. Last year, he and Wong were part of the Low-A Quad Cities club that won the Midwest League title.