The St. Luke’s Rubber Products baseball team clinched its third NL Central Division title and the fifth straight in 2016 with a 10-6 victory over St Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night at Slugger Field.
Cardinals ace Yadier Molina and outfielder Nick Punto each had three hits and three RBIs, and reliever Jordan Lyles and infielder Chris Young each had one hit.
Molina had two hits in his first at-bat, and Punto and Lyles both had two singles.
Young added a double to his first major league hit, a home run, and Molina hit two singles in the third inning.
The Cardinals went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two walks.
The teams will play one more game before their division series finale on Sunday.
St. Lucia (5-4) defeated the University of Central Florida to end a five-game losing streak and move into first place in the NL Central.
The St Louis club, which has won seven of its last nine games, has the best record in the majors.
The game featured two solo home runs by Lyles, who has hit 18 homers over the past two seasons.
The former Florida State star led off the game with a single in the sixth inning.
He then hit a two-run homer in the seventh, and then hit another two-out homer in a three-run third.
After two walks, Lyles hit a three for the final run of the game, his first since the fifth inning of a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on April 25.
He also had two RBIs in the fifth.
“I think we were just kind of playing to the best of our abilities.
We were able to keep the game close,” Lyles said.
The loss snapped a two game winning streak for St. Lukes.
Molinas, who made his major league debut on March 25, finished the game batting .273 with four home runs and 21 RBIs.
Lyles made a two step-back double in the second inning to give St. Lucas a 6-3 lead.
Molins hit a four-run double in an inning later.
Lyra, who was named the Cardinals’ 2016 Rookie of the Year, made a pair of infield hits in the first and second innings.
He doubled in the fourth and scored on a double by Young.
Young followed with a two run homer in his second inning.
“This game was about me, my teammates and my teammates in St. Petersburg,” Molina said.
“We came in here and played hard.
We just needed to be more aggressive and play like that.”
Young, who had seven RBIs to lead St.
Luces, hit a homer in each of the first three innings.
Ly, who finished with five RBIs and four hits, finished with seven RBI.
Ly has not scored more than four runs since the start of the 2014 season.
“They’ve been tough to play against and they’ve been really good this year,” Molins said.
Molinos was ejected for the fifth time in six games and was replaced by second baseman Ryan Schimpf.
St Luke’s also is 3-1 in the three games in which it has won the division.
The last time St.
Louis won its first three games of a season was in 2012, when it won the NL East Division and the division by nine games.
St Louis will face the winner of the Texas Rangers on Sunday night at 2:05 p.m.
The loser of that game will face either the New York Yankees or the Philadelphia Athletics in the final game of the division series.
Molino is hitting .346 (38-for) in 27 games against the Phillies.
He has two home runs, four RBIs (six doubles) and 15 walks in 27 plate appearances against the other clubs.
He hit his third home run of 2016, a single off Phillies starter Sean Burnett, in the bottom of the third against the Cardinals on April 6.
The home run tied the game for St Louis, but the Cardinals won the game 9-5.