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Cardinals win first title in 34 years
Siegrist dominates for 6 2/3 innings after leadoff homer
09/04/2010 9:16 PM ET
Members of the Cardinals coaching staff hoist the championship trophy.
Members of the Cardinals coaching staff hoist the championship trophy. (Tony Farlow/MiLB.com)
When Kevin Siegrist gave up a leadoff home run in the top of the first inning Saturday night, Johnson City manager Mike Shildt was unconcerned.

Siegrist retired 19 of the next 20 batters he faced and Virgil Hill homered and drove in three runs as the Cardinals beat the Elizabethton Twins, 6-2, to win their first Appalachian League championship since 1976.

"Last night, Boone Whiting gave up a solo homer to the second hitter of the game. This was the exact same thing," Shildt said. "(Siegrist) responded positively. The biggest thing we talk about is that adversity's going to happen. When something goes wrong, go back to what you know works for you."

In Siegrist's case, that's a fastball he was able to throw on both sides of the plate.

"He used his changeup more tonight and his breaking ball's really improved. He was able to use that more against lefties," Shildt said. "He just really threw the ball well."

After Jamaal Hawkins staked the Twins to an almost instant 1-0 lead, Siegrist (1-0) did not allow another baserunner until Brian Burke singled with two outs in the fourth inning. The 21-year-old left-hander ended up yielding three hits while striking out six.

"This is a great experience. It's the first time I ever won a championship," said Siegrist, a 2008 41st-round pick who went 4-3 with a 1.93 ERA in seven regular-season outings.

"(Hawkins) hit a good pitch. I just settled down. I had confidence in myself and the guys behind me. (Catcher Travis Tartamella) called a great game."

Tartamella also delivered a two-run single to cap a three-run first inning that put Johnson City ahead for good. Hill stroked an RBI double in the sixth, then added his second postseason homer, a two-run shot in the eighth.

"Whether it was (Cody) Stanley the first night, Virgil Hill the last two nights, the pitching's been phenomenal the whole series ... I'm just proud of them," said Shildt, who wrapped up his second season as Cardinals manager.

"This is a special group. I've known it from the very beginning. We just had guys that cared, guys with ability and guys who want to succeed. When you have that combination, you can achieve some pretty special things."

This marked the second year in a row the Twins have lost in the Finals after winning back-to-back titles in 2007-08.

Daren Smith is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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