SPRINGDALE, Ark - After an hour and twelve minute delay prior to first pitch, Northwest Arkansas fell into an early 4-0 hole but the Naturals (18-23) would rally and then hang on late for a 7-6 win over the Springfield Cardinals (18-24) on Saturday night.
Facing a four-run deficit, the Naturals offense went to work in the third. With a runner on first, Khalil Lee doubled off the wall in right-center field to make it a 4-1 game before Gabriel Cancel followed with a double to left field to pull the Naturals within 4-2. Northwest Arkansas would climb all the way back in the fourth with a pair of runs as Taylor Featherston led off the frame with a single and scored on a throwing error by the Cardinals' right fielder after a single by Meibrys Viloria . Then with one-out in the inning, Angelo Castellano got his big night started as he evened up the game with a sharp RBI single to left-center field.
The game remained tied until the sixth when Castellano got involved again in a big way. The ninth hole hitter, whom was filling in at first base, unloaded on a 3-2 pitch by Hector Mendoza (L, 0-1) with a runner on for a two-run home run and a 6-4 lead. Castellano would give his team insurance and a 7-4 lead with his third hit and fourth RBI as he drove home Viloria in the eighth.
Springfield would score two unearned runs in the ninth to threaten but Franco Terrero (S, 4) was called upon out of the Naturals' bullpen to get the final out and he did just that by striking out Randy Arozarena looking to end the game. Terrero has had a big homestand thus far as the hard-throwing right-hander has a win and two saves in the first six games of this 7-gamer.
After the early runs, the Naturals pitching staff dominated the middle portion of the game. Starter Conner Greene settled in and struck out six through 5.0 innings of work after giving up the four runs, three earned, on four hits. Manager Darryl Kennedy relied heavily on his bullpen on Saturday and they delivered as Andres Sotillet (W, 2-1) earned his second win with a scoreless frame before giving way to Yunior Marte (H, 4) and Gabe Speier (H, 1) before Terrero would eventually close out the Redbirds.
On offense, Northwest Arkansas collected 12 hits on back-to-back nights with Castellano's 3-for-3, four RBI day leading the charge. Viloria, the Naturals' catcher, also had a great night at the plate as he collected his first three-hit game of the season.
Northwest Arkansas will conclude their 7-game homestand with the series finale against the Springfield Cardinals (Double-A St. Louis) tomorrow afternoon - Sunday, May 19. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on a Kids Eat FREE Sunday presented by Northwest Arkansas Tobacco & Drug Free featuring Mercy Kids Run the Bases. Northwest Arkansas will send right-hander Jace Vines (1-4, 5.54 ERA) to the bump while the Cardinals will counter with left-hander Austin Warner (2-2, 4.26 ERA) in the finale. Catch all of the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket at 1:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch against the Double-A St. Louis Cardinals from Arvest Ballpark.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark. For more information, including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.