Nick Torres stroked a two-run homer to left field and reliever Jason Jester retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth as the San Antonio Missions held on late to even their series with a slim 5-4 win over the Springfield Cardinals in front 3,801 fans at Wolff Stadium on Friday night. Springfield won the season opener for both teams on Thursday night 3-1.
It was San Antonio (1-1) who scored first against Springfield starter Trey Nielsen with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, as Auston Bousfield began the inning by reaching on a wild pitch. After Jose Rondon flew out to right field, Torres slapped the second pitch he saw over the left field fence, to give the Missions an early 2-0 advantage.
The Cardinals (1-1) didn’t take very long to counter as Springfield’s David Washington lined a triple down the right field and then scored on Carson Kelly’s RBI groundout one batter later to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the top of the second inning.
San Antonio second baseman Taylor Lindsey extended the Missions lead to 3-1 with a solo blast in the bottom of the third.
An inning later, Washington would draw a walk from San Antonio starter Brian Rodriguez and eventually scored on Bruce Caldwell’s sharp single to trim the lead by one.
From there, the opportunistic Missions extended their lead to 5-2 after loading the bases and cashing in on a couple of passed balls to pad their lead once again.
However, Springfield wouldn’t go quietly into the night as Caldwell ripped a double to right to open the eighth inning off of San Antonio reliever Eric Yardley and then came around to score on Harrison Bader’s single to close within 5-4. With two runners on and only one out, Yardley escaped further trouble as he induced Cardinals’ shortstop Breyvic Valera to ground into an inning-ending double play that ended the last serious threat for the Cardinals.
Jester – who replaced Yardley at the top of the ninth inning – collected his first save of the season in an inning of work by striking out Paul DeJong, retiring Luke Voit on a groundout to first base and forcing Washington to fly out to left field to preserve the win for the Missions.
It was an uneven outing for Rodriguez, who went 4 2/3 innings and surrendered eight hits, giving up two earned runs while striking out three.
Torres finished 1-2, with 2 runs scored, 2 RBI, and his first home run of the year.
The two teams square off in the series finale tonight at 7:05 p.m.
By Mark Caul