Dreams do come true for Cardinals’ hometown hero

David Freese probably acted out the scenario hundreds of times on the ball fields in Wildwood, Missouri. Batting for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Tie game with a chance to win it with one swing of the bat.

Sometimes, dreams do come true.

In what was a fitting end to a memorable night, the Cardinals third baseman hit a walk-off home run in Game 6 to force a deciding, winner-take-all Game 7 on Friday night.

The Texas Rangers were so close to winning their first World Series, they could taste the champagne. Twice, they were one strike away from celebrating. And twice, the team that never quit manufactured two runs to extend the game.

After Freese tripled in two runs in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game at 7, Josh Hamilton stepped to the plate in the top of the 10th and hit his first home run of the entire postseason. Hamilton, playing with either a pulled groin or a sports hernia, had been striped of all his power before his 10th inning two-run blast.

There was no way the Rangers should have blown a second two-run lead. But manager Ron Washington decided to remove closer Neftali Feliz from the game, turning to grizzled veteran Darren Oliver, who was only able to record one out. He left with runners on second and third. Abe Lincoln-look-alike Scott Feldman recorded the second out on a ground out, though one run scored making the game 9-8. After walking Albert Pujols, Washington positioned the Rangers outfielders on the edge of the warning track, entirely too deep with the tying run at second base.

Lance Berkman, cool and calm, blooped a single just over the infield to tie the game.

Freese didn’t waste anytime in the 11th. Leading off against little-used Mark Lowe, Freese launched a ball into the grass beyond the centerfield wall, sending the St. Louis crowd into a frenzy.