Austin Gomber's first Texas League start earlier this month was the appetizer. Saturday was the main course.
The Cardinals' No. 19 prospect gave up one hit over seven innings as Double-A Springfield beat Northwest Arkansas, 1-0, at Hammons Field.
Gomber (1-0) walked two and struck out three, facing two batters over the minimum. He retired seven in a row before issuing a leadoff walk to Mauricio Ramos in the fifth and ended up throwing 55 of 88 pitches for strikes.
"I was able to get ahead with my fastball," Gomber said. "I didn't have the curveball that I usually have to put guys away with. I felt like that was something I struggled with tonight, but I was able to get quick outs and the defense played great behind me."
The 22-year-old left-hander made his Texas League debut on July 9, stepping up after Trey Nielsen moved up to Triple-A Memphis to fill for Alex Reyes. Gomber allowed a run on four hits and three walks while striking out four over six innings against San Antonio but was sent back to Class A Advanced Palm Beach.
"Obviously, I wanted to stay, but I went down there and worked on some things," he said. "It gave me a little bit of a sense of urgency, being up here and seeing what it was like. For me it, it was just like I have to figure out what to do to get back up there. I went down [to Palm Beach] and devoted myself to talking to the pitching coach about what I needed to do to get back up here. I got down there and I was hungry to get back up."
To be able to pick up the win in his second Double-A start proved to be a thrill for Gomber, who said he's looking forward to helping the Cardinals -- the first-half North Division champions -- prepare for their playoff run.
"It was really exciting," the 2014 fourth-round pick said. "This team already clinched a playoff spot, so it's fun to play on a team that's going to be in the playoffs. With a month left in the season, we're trying to get hot, trying to get rolling for when the playoffs come around. Springfield hasn't won a title in a few years, and I think we have a good group here and have a good chance to win it. Whenever we can collect wins and get rolling, it's huge."
Corey Baker gave up a hit and a walk while recording two outs in the eighth and Justin Wright retired the only batter he faced. Ronnie Shaban allowed a hit and struck out one on the way to his ninth save.
Blake Drake provided the game's only run with a two-out single in the second.
Northwest Arkansas' Yender Caramo fell to 2-5 after yielding a run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out eight without issuing a walk.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.