Mike Mayers tossed seven scoreless innings and second baseman Bruce Caldwell drove in all three runs as the Springfield Cardinals quelled a late rally to beat the San Antonio Missions, 3-1, before 5,807 fans at Wolff Stadium on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
Mayers (1-0) retired the first ten batters he faced while scattering three hits and striking out five for Springfield.
Caldwell helped lead the offense – going 3-for-3 with a solo home run, triple and single – falling a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
The Cardinals (1-0) touched Missions starter Fabio Castillo for a couple of runs at the top of the second inning as first baseman Luke Voit began the uprising with his first Double-A hit – a sharp single to right field. After right fielder David Washington reached on an infield single, Caldwell lined a two-run single up the middle, to plate both Voit and Caldwell, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 advantage.
Later, Caldwell would crush a solo shot to right field in the top of the fifth inning to increase the Springfield lead to 3-0.
Springfield reliever John Brebbia retired the Missions in order in relief of Mayers at the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Missions (0-1) were finally able to get on the board in the the bottom of the ninth against Kurt Heyer, who collected the save for the Cardinals. San Antonio shortstop Jose Rondon stroked a one-out single up the middle and after Jeff Stewart grounded out, right fielder Yeison Asencio lined an RBI triple inside the right field line to score Rondon from second base and avoid the shutout.
The Missions looked like they had something going, but after Nick Torres drew a walk to extend the game, Heyer came back and struck out Diego Goris to close out the Missions.
“We swung the bats well in spring training, so this is not indicative of what we are going to see the rest of the season.” Missions manager Phillip Wellman said. “I thought we hit some balls hard but just couldn’t find any holes.”
It was a respective showing for Castillo, who pitched in the Mexican League in 2015. The burly right hander surrendered six hits while striking out six and giving up three earned runs.
“He pitched a good six innings for us,” said Wellman. “Every time he got the ball up in the strike zone, he got hurt.”
The Missions host the Cardinals tonight at 7:05 in the second of a season-opening, six-game homestand. Bryan Rodriguez (0-0, 0.00) will get the start for San Antonio, while Springfield will counter with Trey Nielsen.
By Mark Caul