LITTLE ROCK - Facing tight situations all night long the Arkansas Travelers made big pitches during a 3-2 victory over the Springfield Cardinals on Friday at Dickey-Stephens Park. Springfield left 13 runners and was 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position leading 11 runners at either second or third base.
The Travs scored all three runs in the fifth inning, which they entered trailing 1-0 thanks to a sacrifice fly by James Ramsey in the third inning. Mike Mayers, in his Double-A debut, allowed three base hits over four innings, but Travs shortstop Eric Stamets opened the fifth with a home run (1) to tie the game. Kyle Hudson lined a hard single and took third base when Maikol Gonzalez chopped a single offf third baseman Patrick Wisdom's glove. Alex Yarbrough hit a deep sacrifice fly to center that scored Hudson for a 2-1 lead. However Gonzalez also advanced to second base on the fly out, which proved to be an important base when Brian Hernandez grounded an RBI single to center field for a 3-1 lead.
In five innings against Nate Smith (3-1), the Cards put ten men on base on five base hits and five walks. Smith issued three walks in the fifth inning, but allowed just the one run on Ramsey's sacrifice. Curt Smith made the last out with a pop up to leave bases loaded.
Springfield threatened Smith in the fourth inning with one out when Luis Mateo doubles and took third on a hard single by Matt Williams to right field. A wild pitch moved Williams to third base, but Anderson De La Rosa kept Mateo at third base. Smith worked out of the jam by getting Travis Tartamella on a shallow fly ball to right then a foul out near the third base seats on a nice catch by Stamets, who ended the play in the first row of seats.
Smith exited after getting the last out of the fifth inning in a rundown between first and second base. A pair of two out singles put Cardinals runners on the corners. Curt Smith attempted to steal second base and stopped to start a rundown. However Jonathan Rodriguez held third base and eventually Smith was tagged out.
Buddy Boshers found quick trouble with a pair of singles and a walk with no outs. The Cards managed just one run on a one-out dribbler by O'Neill, which Boshers pounced on before tagging O'Neill on the first-base line. Boshers struck out Wisdom for the third out then retired the side in order in the seventh.
Michael Brady gave up a leadoff eighth inning single by David Popkins, who was bunted up and took third on a groundout. Brady induced O'Neill to fly to left field leaving two more runners.
Danny Reynolds came on for an attempt at his first save since 2011. A one-out walk to Starlin Rodriguez followed with a single by Jonathan Rodriguez put the go-ahead runs on base for Springfield. Reynolds struck out Smith on a wild third strike, which moved both runners into scoring position. Then Reynolds ended the game in fitting fashion by striking Popkins out to save the win for Smith, who walked five but only allowed one run on five hits with four strikeouts.
Time of game was 2:51 and the paid attendance was 6,139.
The Travs have a chance to take the series on Saturday night with Kramer Sneed (4-6, 4.95) pitching against Springfield's Jonathan Cornelius (6-5, 3.68). First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. at Dickey-Stephens Park.