Springdale, AR - The Northwest Arkansas scored two runs on wild pitches in the bottom of the ninth, coming back for the 5-4 win against the Springfield Cardinals before 3,820 fans at Arvest Ballpark on Sunday evening.
After Springfield RHP Zach Petrick and Northwest Arkansas RHP Brooks Pounders alternated the first three frames in scoreless fashion, the Naturals (17-13, 42-58) struck first in the bottom of the fourth. With runners at second and third, RF Lane Adams brought in LF Brian Fletcher from third base with an RBI ground out, lifting Northwest Arkansas into the 1-0 lead.
The Cardinals (14-16, 47-51) responded right away with four runs against Pounders in the top of the fifth. Back-to-back walks by C Cody Stanley and SS Luis Mateo started the frame. After a fly out, C Casey Rasmus ripped an RBI single down the first base line, scoring Stanley from second. An RBI fielder's choice by LF Mike O'Neill brought in Mateo, before O'Neill and Rasmus both scored on a two-run single by CF James Ramsey, making it 4-1.
The Naturals began chipping away immediately with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. With one away in the fifth, 2B Whit Merrifield swung himself to third with a triple, before coming in on a sacrifice fly by CF Brett Eibner.
Petrick got out of the rest of the fifth unscathed and then retired the first two in the sixth, but Adams kept the inning alive with a two-out walk. He went to third base on a single from DH Rey Navarro, and then darted home later in the inning when RHP Kevin Thomas uncorked a wild pitch, bringing the Naturals within one run, 4-3.
Northwest Arkansas completed the comeback against RHP Deryk Hooker (L, 1-4) in the bottom of the ninth inning. Navarro led off with a single to right field, before pinch hitter Angel Franco blooped a base hit to shallow right, putting runners at first and second. Merrifield then laid down a well-placed bunt to the left side of the infield, reaching with an infield single and loading the bases with no outs. Hooker got Eibner to sky a pop up to shallow right for the first out of the inning with no runs coming in. However, a pitch got away from Hooker during the at-bat of Calixte, enabling Navarro to race home from third and tie the game. After the Cardinals walked Calixte, another wild pitch bounced away during Fletcher's at-bat and Franco darted in for the game-winning run, lifting the Naturals to the 5-4 victory. LHP Jon Keck (W, 1-3) tossed a pair of scoreless relief innings to log the win.
Click here for the complete box score from Sunday's game.
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