Springdale, AR - 3B Ruben Gotay hit a home run from each side of the plate in the final two frames on Friday, powering the Springfield Cardinals to the 8-4 come-from-behind victory against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals before 7,535 fans at Arvest Ballpark. The Cardinals remain just 1.5 games behind the 1st-place Tulsa Drillers with four games left in the First Half.
The Cardinals (32-34) and Naturals (22-44) alternated runs and leads throughout the game, starting with a Northwest Arkansas tally in the bottom of the second. Facing RHP Seth Blair, Naturals C Mitch Canham led off with a walk, before swiping second base. One out later, LF Roman Hernandez lined an RBI triple to left-center field, swinging the Naturals to the 1-0 lead.
Springfield, though, tied it right away in the top of the third. All-Star LF Mike O'Neill, who reached base in all five plate appearances and scored four runs, singled to start the third frame. After a walk drawn by CF James Ramsey, both runners moved up to second and third on a wild pitch. Gotay then struck for the first of his five RBIs with a sacrifice fly, plating O'Neill for the 1-1 tie.
The Cardinals struck again in the top of the fifth for their first lead of the game. O'Neill sparked the charge with a leadoff double and took third on a wild pitch. Ramsey brought O'Neill home with an RBI sacrifice fly to center field, lifting the Cardinals into the 2-1 advantage.
However, the Naturals tied it right away in the bottom of the fifth. With runners at second and third and one away, 3B Cheslor Cuthbert skied an RBI sacrifice fly to left field, scoring SS Orlando Calixte and squaring the score, 2-2.
Blair kept the tie intact with only two runs allowed through the remainder of his six-inning start, but the Naturals struck again in the bottom of the seventh. Facing RHP Kevin Thomas (W, 3-3), Calixte drove a solo home run to center field, lifting the Naturals back in front, 3-2.
The Cardinals responded in a big way in the top of the eighth. O'Neill again started the rally, this time drawing a leadoff walk against LHP Jon Keck (L, 0-2). One out later, Gotay hammered a go-ahead two-run homer over the left field wall. RF Chris Swauger followed with a single, chasing Keck from the mound, before 1B Xavier Scruggs worked a walk against RHP Santiago Garrido. After a fly out, both runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch from Garrido. DH Cody Stanley then ripped a two-out, two-run double inside the left field line, plating both runners to open a 6-3 lead.
After Thomas struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth, Gotay struck again in the ninth. O'Neill led off with another walk, and then Gotay crushed his second two-run homer off the right field foul pole one out later, increasing the lead to 8-3.
Northwest Arkansas CF Brett Eibner hit a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth, but RHP Deryk Hooker navigated through the rest of the frame in scoreless fashion, closing the 8-4 win for Springfield.
Click here for the complete box score from Friday's game.
Stan Musial Tribute Jerseys and Allen Craig Bat Giveaway highlight Father's Day Game on June 16
In celebration of the life and career of the greatest Cardinal of them all, Stan Musial, the Springfield Cardinals will be wearing the newly-unveiled Stan Musial Tribute Jerseys during the game against the Tulsa Drillers on Sunday, June 16. The cream-colored jerseys are exact replicas of the St. Louis Cardinals uniforms from 1941, the year that Stan "The Man" played in Springfield before making his St. Louis debut later in the season on Sept. 17.
Every Springfield Cardinal will not only don the tribute jerseys, but the entire team will also wear #6, marking the first time in 50 years that a Cardinal has worn the revered number. During the game, the jerseys will be auctioned off to benefit the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri.
The Sunday, June 16 Father's Day Game also features the Rawlings Allen Craig Bat Giveaway, with 1,250 kids, 15-and-younger, with a paid admission receiving a replica bat of one of the most clutch hitters in baseball! First Pitch is 6:09pm, gates open at 5:09pm.
For information about becoming a Season Ticket Holder, organizing a Group Outing, booking a Cake Pop Company Birthday Party or ordering Individual Game Tickets right now, call the Front Office at (417) 863-2143 or visit SpringfieldCardinals.com.
Click here for the Cardinals full 2013 Promotional Schedule and to get your tickets right now.
Escape to Cardinals Baseball!