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Gorgen, Cards savor first Texas title

Strikes out seven, pitches six scoreless innings in clincher
September 15, 2012

Two days after tossing seven two-hit innings for Memphis and recording his first Triple-A win on Aug. 28, Scott Gorgen earned a demotion to Double-A Springfield.

The 25-year-old right-hander, who had two separate stints at both levels this season, was returning to the Cardinals' Texas League affiliate for the third time -- but for good reason. Springfield needed starting pitching help entering the playoffs and he was eligible for the postseason.

While others may have been discouraged, the timing allowed Gorgen to look at it another way.

"Absolutely, any chance you get to pitch in the playoffs, no matter where you are, you're happy to do it," he said. "Sure, you have to pitch a little longer and extend your season, but this gave me the opportunity to be part of a good group of guys and help give them a chance at a championship."

He did a little more than help.

Gorgen struck out seven and allowed four hits over six shutout innings Saturday as Springfield captured its first Texas League championship with a 2-1 victory over Frisco in Game 4 of the best-of-5 Finals.

"It's hard to put into words," said Gorgen, who missed all of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. "It's really just the product of a lot of hard work and a great way to finish. Being in Springfield for the third year after having what's really been an up-and-down season was the perfect ending for me."

Early on, that conclusion was not guaranteed.

The Cardinals left seven runners on base over the first four innings and Gorgen (1-1) worked out of a jam in the third after the RoughRiders put two men on base with none out.

Springfield finally broke through in the fifth when Greg Garcia lined an RBI single off Frisco starter Wilfredo Boscan (0-1).

An error by Garcia in the bottom of the inning was followed by a walk and a sacrifice as the RoughRiders threatened again. But Gorgen again worked out of trouble, retiring Engel Beltre and Leury Garcia -- the top two batters in the lineup.

Gorgen struck out two in the sixth to end his night after 87 pitches, 54 for strikes.

"He was huge for us," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "He really competed well in a big game. He had great command of his fastball, and the changeup and breaking stuff were pretty good, too. He got into a couple jams but pulled Houdinis to get out of them every time."

The night's biggest play came in the eighth.

The Cardinals got a run in the top half when second baseman Leury Garcia's error allowed Mike O'Neill to score. In the bottom of the frame, Chris McGuiness pulled the RoughRiders within one with a solo shot off reliever Eric Fornataro.

Tommy Mendonca followed with a single and moved into scoring position as Ryan Strausborger was retired on a comebacker. Jared Hoying lined a single, but left fielder Adam Melker threw Mendonca out at the plate to keep Springfield in front.

"Obviously, the end result was fantastic," Gorgen said. "We were all jumping up and down in the dugout. When I saw Melker picked it up clean, I knew he had a shot because we all knew Mendonca wasn't the fastest runner. Even though he was trying to score, we all knew we had a chance. And it worked out perfectly."

Keith Butler worked around a two-out single in the ninth, retiring Beltre on a forceout for his fifth postseason save.

Besides providing a "perfect ending" to Gorgen's roller-coaster season, the title was the third straight for Shildt, who led the Cards to a franchise-record 77 regular-season wins after managing Johnson City to back-to-back Appalachian League championships.

"He brought intensity to this team, he brought motivation to this team," Gorgen said. "And it was such a young team to begin with. For him in his first [Double-A] year, he -- with a couple veterans mixed in -- made this a real team. And that's what managers are supposed to do, and that's what he did, even when he was a Spring Training coordinator with us. You could always tell he wanted to win anywhere he went."

Shildt, meanwhile, deflected the attention on a historic night for his club and those involved with it.

"This is really an organizational championship," he said. "A lot of times people get left off, but from the scouts to the player development people to everyone in St. Louis, it's a really well-run organization.

"It was very sweet to get the first one for the franchise, and the team was very conscious of that. They made it part of the team goal this year to win it for the [Springfield] front office, who have treated us like gold all year. We wanted this one to take care of them and our fans."


Sam Dykstra is a contributor to