SPRINGFIELD, MO - Xavier Scruggs belted his 21st home run of the year in the ninth inning on Independence Day as the Cardinals walked off with a 2-1 victory over Corpus Christi before a sold-out crowd at Hammons Field.
The Hooks, who have lost a season-high five in a row, were ahead 1-0 heading into the eighth thanks to a sterling performance from Ruben Alaniz. The La Grulla native held the Cards to two hits and three walks over seven frames. He stranded five, struck out four and got a key double play with two on and no outs in the sixth. Alaniz tossed six scoreless innings against Springfield in his previous start.
Lefty Patrick Urckfitz came on to relieve Alaniz in the eighth. Audry Perez, who cracked a grand slam Wednesday night, led off the frame with a home run to tie the game. The laser shot to right was the first allowed by Urckfitz this season.
Scruggs, facing Jorge De Leon (0-2), worked the count full to open the ninth and sent a no-doubter over the Hooks bullpen in left field. It marked Springfield's fourth hit of the night. Scruggs is now tied with Matt Fields of Northwest Arkansas for the Texas League lead in home runs.
Corpus Christi finally pushed thru in the fourth against Seth Blair. Drew Muren scratched out an infield hit beyond the bag at second. Ronny Torreyes, in his debut as an Astros farmhand, singled to left field. Rene Garcia, batting .500 with men in scoring position, hit a line drive into right-center, plating Muren from second base. Garcia has now hit safely in eight straight.
Blair, Justin Wright and Kevin Thomas (5-3) retired 14 in a row following the Garcia RBI. Corpus Christi stranded nine and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Mike Foltynewicz (3-1, 2.21), a native of nearby Minooka, IL, aims to salvage a win in Friday night's finale. Lefty Anthony Ferrara (5-3, 5.48) gets the call for the Cardinals. First pitch is 7:09.