CORPUS CHRISTI - Erraticism was an issue for both starting pitchers at Whataburger Field Saturday night, but Springfield's Sandy Alcantara recovered to post his seventh win of 2017.
Flashing 100 miles per hour on the radar readout in the first and sixth innings, Alcantara yielded one earned run on three scattered hits and the Cardinals held on to defeat Corpus Christi 6-5 before 6,320.
Alcantara (7-5), who walked five and struck out eight while covering 5 2/3 innings, threw 99 pitches, 57 for strikes. The 21-year-old Dominican, signed as a free agent in 2013, is St. Louis' No. 6 prospect.
Walks of Ramon Laureano and Jon Singleton placed Alcantara and the Cardinals (32-17; 67-52) in early peril. After Jamie Ritchie reached on third baseman Jacob Wilson's throwing error, Jason Martin delivered a bases-loaded, two-out single to center for a 1-0 Hooks lead.
Anthony Garcia's opening walk came back to bite Alex Winkelman (1-7) during the Springfield second. Winkelman walked John Nogowksi and yielded a single to Wilson before Bruce Caldwell collected a fielder's choice RBI. An error on shortstop Antonio Nunez reloaded the bases, and Winkelman then free passed Tommy Edman to make it 2-1 Cardinals.
Corpus Christi (22-26; 56-62) pulled even in the home half, the result of Arturo Michelena's one-out single, walks by Rico Noel and Laureano, and a Kyle Tucker sacrifice fly.
Back-to-back fourth-inning yard shots from Andrew Knizner and Edman pushed the Cardinals back in front. Edman's traveled 449 feet to left.
Winkelman worked five frames and registered three earned runs, seven hits, four walks, seven strikeouts, and a hit batsman. His pitch count was 96 (60).
Springfield extended its lead to 6-2 against Ralph Garza in the sixth. Oscar Mercado's walk and a Magneuris Sierra infield single preceded Garcia's two-run double over the head of Laureano in right field.
The Hooks struck Corey Littrell and Andrew Morales for three eighth-inning runs. Colin Walsh lashed an RBI double to right-center, plating Martin (walk), and crossed on Nunez's bounce out. Morales walked the first batter he faced, Michelena, who was singled into scoring position by Noel. Michelena achieved third and the plate on Morales wild pitches.
Corpus Christi reliever Riley Ferrell fanned five in a six-up, six-down sequence over the Cardinals' final two turns.
Hooks manager Rodney Linares was ejected in the home ninth while protesting a call by home plate umpire Kyle McCrady. With the bases loaded and one out, Nunez grounded the ball to Wilson, whose throw home beat pinch-runner Ryne Birk. McCrady ruled the catcher, Knizner, lost control of the ball while attempting to transfer for a throw; Linares protested, contending the ball popped out of Knizner's glove.
Tyler Bray, the fifth Cardinals pitcher, pitched the final 2/3 for his second save.
In all, Springfield pitchers walked 10, the Hooks seven. The clubs combined to strand 24 baserunners.
The series and homestand wrap Sunday at 6:05, when Corpus Christi's Brock Dykxhoorn (3-5) faces Chris Ellis (4-6). It's H-E-B Kids Day, so all children run the bases postgame.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.