When looking over the Springfield Cardinals line-up, the name Brett Wallace jumps out. Rated St. Louis' # 2 prospect by Baseball America, the 6-1, 245-pound third baseman is an intimidating presence. But, after a two-home run debut, Wallace has been relatively quiet (he did have a three-hit game Monday, raising his average to .275). Then there's Steven Hill.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Hill was St. Louis 13th round draft selection in 2007 out of Stephen F. Austin University. He belted a pair of two-run home runs Monday at Citibank Ballpark, leading the Springfield to a 9-4 win and squaring the three-game series at a game a piece.
In five games against the RockHounds, Hill has swung an absolutely lethal bat, now 9-for-19 (.475) with three HR, two doubles and eight RBI (with a slugging percentage of 1.053).
With one on and two out in the first, Hill jumped on Graham Godfrey's first pitch, driving it deep over the wall just left of the center field batter's eye for a 2-0 Cardinals lead.
Danny Putnam matched Hill's blast with a two-run shot of his own in the home half of the first, and the teams then traded RBI doubles in the fourth. Tyler Henly drove in a pair for Springfield, and Gabriel Ortiz came up with another unexpected key swing in the last of the inning. Pinch-hitting for Corey Brown, Ortiz drove a two-run double down the left-field line. Playing in only his second game above the rookie level, Ortiz is 2-for-6 with a HR and five RBI.
Springfield broke the 4-4 tie, scoring twice in the fifth, including Donovan Solano's single, the eventual game-winner, and the score remained 6-4 until the ninth. After a strong inning-and-two-thirds (one walk and three strikeouts), Rocky Roquet surrendered a two-out single to Wallace. On the next pitch, Hill launched a NASA shot over the left field wall, adding two insurance runs. A walk and a Daniel Descalso triple closed the scoring.
The rest of the South closed the gap on the 'Hounds, with Corpus Christi, Frisco and San Antonio each winning. The RockHounds lead Corpus by one game; the RoughRiders and Missions by two.
The RockHounds will bid for their fourth consecutive series win to open the year, hosting Springfield Tuesday night. The Cardinals will look for their third series win in four tries and a 4-2 road trip. Jason Fernandez (1-1, 3.27) gets the start for the 'Hounds against Springfield lefty Justin Fiske (0-1, 8.68).
Wednesday is an off / travel day across the league before division play begins Thursday, with the Rockhounds traveling to San Antonio for a four-game series with the Missions.
The RockHounds' new radio home is Jack-FM (102.1-FM). RockHounds broadcasts are also available online. Look for the link to Jack-FM on the RockHounds' web site ... then click "Jack On The Box." Air time Tuesday evening at Citibank Ballpark is 6:15 p.m..
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.