The Cardinals took the first lead of the ballgame during the third inning. Vance Albitz and Kolten Wong both contributed sacrifice flies to score two runs.
Two more runs scored during the fourth for Springfield. After a double by Jamie Romak, Chris Swauger hit an infield single with Romak advancing to third. Swauger then went to second on a wild pitch by Naturals' starter Yordano Ventura. With runners on second and third, Audry Perez hit a two-run single to center field putting the Cardinals up 4-0.
Northwest Arkansas finally got to Springfield starter Seth Maness in the fifth inning. Carlo Testa hit an RBI double to deep right field scoring Paulo Orlando from first base. Despite the first two reaching base, Maness settled down and retired the next three batters to end the half of the inning.
The Cardinals' offense continued to hit well in the fifth inning as they chased the highly touted Ventura out of the inning. With runners on first and third, Romak lined an RBI single to left field scoring Greg Garcia. Following Ventura's second wild pitch of the game, Xavier Scruggs drove in Romak and Oscar Taveras on a two-run single. This put Springfield up 7-1.
Ventura (0-1), making his double-A debut, finished his outing pitching four and a third innings. He allowed seven runs on nine hits. A week ago, Ventura started the MLB Futures Game in Kansas City for the World team.
Back-to-back solo home runs from Johnny Whittleman and Manny Pina pushed Maness out of the ballgame in the sixth inning.
Maness (7-1) pitched five and two-thirds innings surrendering three runs on five hits. He also struck out seven Naturals batters.
Springfield scored in their fourth inning in a row during the sixth on a solo home run by Adam Melker. The home run was Melker's second extra-base hit of the night as he hit a double in the third.
In the top of the seventh inning, Northwest Arkansas threatened to score some more runs. Springfield reliever Jesse Simpson departed after loading the bases with no outs. Michael Blazek then entered and only allowed one run on a sacrifice fly to left field. A 4-6-3 double play ended the frame.
The ninth inning began just like the seventh for the Naturals. They loaded the bases with no outs against Blazek. Keith Butler came into the ballgame and surrendered a sacrifice fly, and an RBI single. He eventually got Brian Fletcher to ground into a double play to end the ballgame.
The Cardinals hit the road and begin a brief four-game series against the Tulsa Drillers beginning Monday night at 7:05pm. Springfield will send Scott McGregor to the mound against Parker Frazier.
Springfield will return home to Hammons Field Friday to begin a four game set with NW Arkansas. Friday is the FINAL World Series Championship Replica Ring Giveaway night of the season. 2,000 fans will receive this outstanding item, so get your tickets now and get to the ball park early. Friday is also another AM Pyrotechnics Friday night fireworks night. Great tickets are still available, so visit the Hammons Field Ticket Office, go online at springfieldcardinals.com or call (417) 863-2143.
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