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Cardinals toil OT to win FSL title

Hoffpauir homer tops Lakeland in 10th
September 13, 2005
The Palm Beach Cardinals won the Florida State League Championship, edging the Lakeland Tigers, 5-4, in Game 5 on Jarrett Hoffpauir's homer in the 10th inning Tuesday night.

With two outs in the top of the 10th, the 22-year-old second baseman sent his first blast of the postseason over the left-field wall to help the Cards to their first championship crown since 1991.

Reliever Mark Worrell Jr. (1-0) pitched a perfect 10th, inducing a game-ending flyout by Brent Clevlen, whose two-run homer off Worrell in the bottom of the eighth gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead.

Worrell, a 22-year-old right-hander who led the league with 35 saves during the regular season, got tagged with a blown save for yielding one run on one hit over 2 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked two.

With two outs in the eighth, Gilberto Mejia singled on a line drive to center. After Worrell came in for reliever Rich Scalamandre, Clevlen hammered his second long ball of the series to right field. Named the 2005 Player of the Year, the 21-year-old led in the postseason with five homers, and at the end of the regular season, topped the league list with a .387 on-base percentage and 102 RBIs.

Palm Beach battled back in the ninth as Reid Gorecki's one-out round-tripper off reliever Chris Homer (0-1) knotted the score at 4-4. Worrell fanned the first two batters in the bottom half before walking the next two. But he picked up Jason Knoedler's grounder and got the out at first to send the game into extra innings.

Even though the Cardinals' pitching staff had given up the fewest homers during the regular season, the Tigers accounted for all of their runs with three round-trippers. Before Clevlen's blast, Kody Kirkland slugged a leadoff shot off starter Oscar Alvarez in the third, and Derek Nicholson went the distance in the fourth to put Lakeland ahead, 2-0. Lakeland led the postseason with 13 homers.

Tyler Greene's two-run single in the fifth made it even for Palm Beach. With one out, Mike McCoy reached first on an error by third baseman Kirkland and moved into scoring position on a single by Matt Pagnozzi. Jordan Tata, who went seven shutout innings in Monday's start for Lakeland, came in for starter Eulogio De La Cruz and walked Hoffpauir to load the bases and set the stage for Greene.

The Cardinals tried to take the lead in the same inning as Hoffpauir stole third and Andy Schutzenhofer walked to load the bases again. But reliever Ian Ostlund took the mound and retired the next two batters to get out of the jam.

With two outs in the seventh, Schutzenhofer singled on a fly ball to center field, advanced to second on a wild pitch by reliever Brian Rogers and scored the go-ahead run on a triple by Gorecki.

The Tigers have not won the Championship since 1992.