Cory Spangenberg's Double-A season turned around on his acceptance that, sometimes, less is more. Bunting for singles and slapping balls the other way? That can be Spangenberg's game if you let him play it.
Those talents were on display Sunday as Spangenberg helped San Antonio jump to an early lead with a pair of base hits. His Double-A Missions held on for a 5-3 win over the Corpus Christi Hooks in the final game of the best-of-5 Texas League opening round.
San Antonio will face Arkansas in the Championship Series after the Travelers swept their first-round matchup with the Tulsa Drillers. The first game will be on Tuesday night at San Antonio.
Spangenberg, San Diego's No. 14 prospect, began the season repeating the California League. In 54 games with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore, the second baseman hit .296 with a .824 OPS and earned a June callup to San Antonio.
The left-handed hitter scuffled in his first month, hitting .243 with a .613 OPS in June. His average rose to .284 in July, though he managed just three extra-base hits in 25 games. In August, the power arrived along with a higher batting average as he hit .330 with 10 extra-base hits and an .810 OPS in 27 contests.
The difference between August and what came before? A willingness to stick to his strengths.
"I think just trying to do too much, trying to make an impact right away," Spangenberg said about his early struggles. "I wasn't being myself. Once I settled down and just realized it was the same game I'd been playing for 20-some odd years, I played better."
After being shut out in the fourth game, San Antonio posted four runs in the first two innings Sunday. In the first inning, the second baseman followed Rico Noel's leadoff double with a bunt single and both scored on Adam Buschini's single.
In the second frame, Spangenberg took advantage of Corpus Christi starter David Rollins' tendency to pitch him away, smacking a double into left field that plated Noel to put San Antonio up, 4-0.
"They were throwing me away all game," he said. "I was trying to see a pitch over the plate I could go the other way with, and I happened to get it. I put a good swing on it. Just trying not to do too much and it happened to get down."
San Diego's No. 2 prospect Austin Hedges went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. The backstop raised his postseason average to .167.