Cards finish off Texas-sized sweep

Hamilton blasts three homers, drives in seven in 16-8 romp

(Joy R. Absalon/

September 8, 2007 12:01 AM ET

Mark Hamilton put balls in the stands and his team in the Texas League Finals.

Hamilton homered three times and plated a career-high seven runs Friday to power the Springfield Cardinals to a 16-8 win over the Tulsa Drillers and a sweep of the North Division Finals.

The 23-year-old first baseman launched a two-run shot in the second inning and singled in the third. He cranked a three-run homer in a six-run sixth, during which the Cards sent nine men to the plate. Hamilton capped his night with a two-run blast in a five-run seventh.

"[Drillers pitcher Gerardo Casadiego] threw me a really good pitch and I put a good swing on it," he said of his final homer. "I wasn't trying to do too much. There have been games where I've had two homers and came up that third time and was swinging too hard."

The win was cause for celebration -- an alcohol-free champagne bath in the clubhouse -- as Springfield earned a berth in the best-of-5 Texas League Championship Series against San Antonio, beginning Tuesday.

Hamilton is no stranger to big outings. He nailed three home runs and collected six RBIs on June 4 for Class A Advanced Palm Beach.

"Tonight meant more, it really helped us move into the next round," he said. "I can't complain. I've had games like this before. I tend to get streaky at times, and it came at a good night."

Cody Haerther had four hits, including a solo homer, and two RBIs, while Jose Martinez went 4-for-6 with a homer and three RBIs. Bryan Anderson went 4-for-5, driving in three runs and scoring three times for the Cardinals, who established a team playoff-record with 21 hits.

"Going into the game, we had the momentum on our side," Hamilton said. "Everyone was determined to win. Every blast gets the next guy ready to do his job. It was a lot of fun to be in that dugout."

Springfield reliever Chris Russ (1-0) allowed one run on two hits and a walk with a strikeout over 1 1/3 frames. Starter Eric Haberer allowed three runs on five hits, struck out two and walked two over 3 2/3 innings.

"You just have to play hard and keep doing what you're doing," Hamilton said. "A lot of it relies on your starting pitching."

Matt Miller went 4-for-5, scored twice and drove in three runs for the Drillers, while Rick Guarno delivered a three-run double.

Tulsa starter Ching Lung Lo (0-1) gave up four runs -- three earned -- on four hits and three walks over 1 1/3 frames.

Michael Blinn is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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