Springdale, AR - The Northwest Arkansas Naturals edged the Springfield Cardinals, 3-1, before 4,849 fans at Arvest Ballpark on Saturday evening.
The Naturals (16-13, 41-58) swung in front early against RHP Seth Blair (L, 3-7), plating a pair in the bottom of the first inning. CF Brett Eibner led off the frame with a free pass, before racing around to third base on a double from SS Orlando Calixte. DH Brett Eibner then drove a two-run double to straightaway center field, scoring both runners for the 2-0 lead.
Northwest Arkansas added another run on a solo home run by 3B Rey Navarro to start the bottom of the second, but then Blair dug in. The Cardinals right-hander only allowed one single through his next five innings, finishing with a season-high eight strikeouts in seven total frames.
However, Naturals RHP Kyle Zimmer (W, 1-0) was equally tough on the mound, keeping the Cardinals bats at bay through his six scoreless innings, striking out seven in his Double-A debut.
The Cardinals (14-15, 47-50) did strike against the Naturals bullpen, getting their first run in the top of the eighth inning against RHP Andy Ferguson. With one down, 2B Vance Albitz and LF Mike O'Neill knocked consecutive singles to put runners at first and third base. RF James Ramsey brought Albitz home from third with an RBI fielder's choice, cutting the Cardinals deficit down to just 3-1.
Springfield got two men on in the top of the ninth with back-to-back base hits from 1B Xavier Scruggs and C Cody Stanley, but LHP Zach Jackson (S, 12) worked out of trouble to close the 3-1 win for the Naturals.
Click here for the complete box score from Saturday's game.
The Cardinals conclude the road series on Sunday in Northwest Arkansas with a 6 p.m. First Pitch. Catch all the action live on Jock 98.7FM and SpringfieldCardinals.com, and tune in 15 minutes early for the Coyote's Sports Cafe Pregame Show.
Springfield then returns home for a seven-game homestand starting on Monday with a 7:09pm First Pitch against the Tulsa Drillers. Click below to view all of the upcoming great promotions at Hammons Field and to get your tickets right now.
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