Bruce Caldwell's clutch, pinch-hit, two-run homer in the eighth was the difference as Springfield stole Tuesday night's series opener 3-2 over San Antonio before 5,129 at Wolff Stadium.
In a much anticipated matchup of division leaders, the Missions and Cardinals did not disappoint. Springfield came into Tuesday's opener tied for first with Tulsa in the North Division second half standings, while San Antonio entered with a six-game lead on Corpus Christi on the South side.
As expected, pitching was the theme Tuesday, with Missions lefty Eric Lauer and Cards right-hander Chris Ellis both looking sharp.
Lauer allowed just one run on five hits and no walks, while fanning five over six strong innings. Springfield's only tally against the former Kent State University star came in the third when Oscar Mercado drove home Tommy Edman from second with a double down the left-field line.
The Missions immediately countered in the bottom half against Ellis when Auston Bousfield led off the frame with a homer to right center. It was Bousfield's third dinger of the season.
Bousfield gave San Antonio a 2-1 lead in the fifth when he followed a Webster Rivas triple with a sacrifice fly to left. Ellis (4-6) would limit the Missions to just those two runs in his seven innings, allowing his team an opportunity to rally.
And that opportunity came in the eighth against All-Star reliever Eric Yardley, who was in his second inning of work. With one on and one out, Yardley (3-1) had the difficult task of facing Caldwell, who fresh off the bench, gave the Cards the lead for good with a two-run homer to left center.
Landon Beck kept the Missions off the board over the final two innings to wrap up the victory and earn his fourth save.
San Antonio (26-18, 67-47) resumes its three-game series with Springfield (29-16, 64-51) Wednesday at 7:05 PM. Right-hander Cal Quantrill (1-2, 4.18) will get the ball for the Missions, while the Cards counter with lefty Austin Gomber (6-7, 4.00).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.