North Little Rock, Arkansas - The Arkansas Travelers earned a three-game series sweep of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals with a 5-0 victory on Wednesday night at Dickey-Stephens Park. Drew Carpenter (3-1) and two relievers combined on a three-hitter and retired the last 19 Naturals batters. C.J. Cron (9) and Carlos Ramirez (4) each hit a two-run homer helping the Travs to their fifth win in seven games.
The victory pushes the Travs to a two-game lead over NW Arkansas in the Texas League North with a 23-17 second half record while improving their overall mark to 56-53. After entering the series with a one-game lead in the division the Naturals now head home to host the Tulsa Drillers with a record of 21-19 in the second half and 46-63 overall.
The Travs jumped on Brooks Pounders (L, 4-6) early for two runs in the first inning. Cyle Hankerd drew a walk on four pitches with two outs bringing Cron to the plate. On one pitch he hit a high fly that carried Jorge Bonifacio near the four-foot wall in right field. As he reached up for the ball, Bonifacio fell over the fence into the Travelers bullpen as the ball landed for a two-run homer.
Pounders kept the Travs with two runs until the seventh inning when they took firm control of the game with three more runs. Travis Witherspoon walked with one out bringing Ramirez to the plate. Pounders threw consecutive pitchouts and fell behind 3-1 before Ramirez hammered his home run to left field for a 4-0 lead. Pounders walked Ryan Jones, who stole second base and scored when Jimmy Swift hit a double to right-center.
The Naturals threatened in the second inning when Bonifacio and Lane Adams strung together consecutive singles putting runners at first and third base. Carpenter got Rey Navarro to hit back to the mound where he started an inning-ending double play.
Brett Eibner was the last Naturals batter to reach base, when he hit a single with two outs in the third inning. Carpenter, who struck out a season-high nine batters, punched out Orlando Calixte to retire the side and start a string of 13 outs for Carpenter.
That string of outs was continued by David Carpenter and Ryan Chaffee for one inning each helping to complete the Travs eleventh shutout victory.
The Springfield Cardinals visit Dickey-Stephens Park on Thursday to begin a four-game series with the Travs. Starting on the mound for the Travelers is LHP Michael Roth (4-10, 4.35) with RHP Zack Petrick (2-0, 3.06) pitching for the Cards. Coverage of the game begins at 6:45 on Sports Animal 920 and the IHeartRadio and Tune-In Radio Apps.