LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Travelers rallied for three runs in the seventh inning to secure a four-game sweep of the Springfield Cardinals with a 4-3 victory. Jett Bandy's two-out single drove in Matt Long with the winning run in the Travs' sixth straight win. Michael Roth (8-5) dealt seven innings to earn the win as the Travs earned their first four-game sweep at Dickey-Stephens Park in 2014.
The victory pushes the Travs' second half record to 14-12, two games in front of Northwest Arkansas for first place in the North Division.
The Travs struck early against Springfield's Kurt Heyer, who walked his first batter of the game and put Maikol Gonzalez on base. A groundout by Alex Yarbrough moved Gonzalez to second base, then Brian Hernandez shot a double past first base to score him for a 1-0 lead.
Heyer settled in and retired 12 in a row to keep the Cardinals close against Roth, who set down eight of the first nine Springfield batters.
Springfield got to Roth in the fourth inning for three runs in a rally that started with a leadoff double by Mike O'Neill. Hernandez fielded a sacrifice bunt by Breyvic Valera and threw the ball into Valera's path towards first base. It rolled into right field for an error that put Cardinals at first and third base with no outs. Both runners scored when Curt Smith doubled to right-center. A two-out single by Starlin Rodriguez plated Smith for a 3-1 Cardinals lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, once again Gonzalez worked a walk to begin an inning. Yarbrough hit his Texas League leading 32nd double to the right field corner setting up the tying runs in scoring position. Matt Long followed with a single through the right side to score Gonzalez while Yarbrough held at third base. When the throw from right field rolled to the plate, Long advanced to second base. Springfield pulled Heyer and inserted reliever Christopher Thomas, whom Hernandez greeted with a sacrifice fly that also sent Long with the go-ahead run to third base. Jett Bandy came up with two outs and rifled a single on a 3-0 pitch from Thomas to center to knock in the winning run.
Roth completed the seventh inning against the bottom third of the order, but not without some controversy. With one out, Roth got Alex Mejia to ground up the first base line. However first base umpire Jake Wilburn ruled a foul ball which resulted in the ejection of Travs manager Phillip Wellman. Roth got Mejia to ground the next pitch to shortstop for the second out. He finished seven innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on two walks, four base hits and four strikeouts.
The bullpen went to work in the eighth inning, but R.J. Alvarez allowed O'Neill a leadoff single. However he got Valera to ground sharply to Eric Stamets at shortstop and he took the ball to second base to begin a double play. Alvarez struck out Smith to end the inning.
Danny Reynolds gave up another leadoff single in the ninth inning, but got Patrick Wisdom on a popped up bunt attempt. Reynolds hit Rodriguez with an 0-2 pitch to put the go-ahead runs on base for Springfield. Reynolds buckled down and retired Rafael Ortega on a pop up and Mejia on a fielder's choice to shortstop to earn his second save.
Time of game was 2:33 and the paid attendance was 5,096.
For the second time in a week, the Travs travel to Tulsa for a four-game series with the Drillers. On Thursday night Kramer Sneed (6-6, 4.42) pitches against Tulsa's Ryan Kulik (0-3, 9.45) at 7:05 p.m.