Springfield, MO - The Springfield Cardinals came from behind with two runs in the bottom of the eighth, catapulting in front for the 6-5 win against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals before 6,757 fans at Hammons Field on Sunday evening.
The Naturals (21-16, 46-61) jumped in front with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning against LHP Anthony Ferrara. Consecutive walks drawn by CF Brett Eibner and SS Orlando Calixte started the inning, before both runners advanced ninety feet each on a wild pitch. After Ferrara struck out 3B Rey Navarro, 1B Matt Fields lined a two-run single to center field, swinging the Naturals ahead early, 2-0.
Springfield (18-19, 51-54) responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third against RHP Sugar Ray Marimon. LF Mike O'Neill sparked the rally with a bunt single, before racing all the way in on an RBI double from 2B Colin Walsh to right-center field. Walsh moved to third base on a single from DH Ruben Gotay, putting runners at the corners. After a strikeout, RF Stephen Piscotty plated Walsh with an RBI sacrifice fly to deep right field, evening the score at 2-2.
The Naturals tilted the lead back in their favor in the top of the fourth. Ferrara retired the frame's first batter, but then issued back-to-back walks before giving way to LHP Justin Wright. Wright lost his first batter, C Mitch Canham, to a walk, loading the bases with one away. Eibner struck with an RBI single to lift the Naturals into the 3-2 lead, before Wright escaped further damage with consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
The Cardinals, though, countered in the bottom of the fourth. SS Jake Lemmerman led off with a single and quickly swiped his way to second base. CF Adam Melker brought the Cards back even on the board with a sharp RBI base hit through the middle of the infield. Melker then sprinted all the way around from first base on a go-ahead RBI double from 3B Vance Albitz, propelling the Cardinals in front, 4-3.
Northwest Arkansas came back in the top of the seventh after two scoreless frames by LHP Justin Wright. Facing RHP Heath Wyatt, Fields struck again with a solo home run over the right field fence, squaring the score at 4-4. After a double by RF Lane Adams and a ground out, Wyatt gave way to LHP Lee Stoppelman (W, 2-1). Stoppelman jammed 2B Angel Franco with a fastball, but Franco muscled a well-placed RBI double to shallow left field, scoring Adams for the 5-4 lead.
The Cardinals dealt the final blow in the back and forth battle in the bottom of the eighth against RHP Jason Bergmann (L, 0-2). With one away, C Cody Stanley singled to start the charge. Lemmerman followed with a perfectly placed bunt single, moving Stanley to second base. Melker worked a walk to load the bases, before Bergmann induced a foul out off the bat of Albitz. With the bases full and two down, O'Neill laced a two-run single to shallow left-center, scoring Stanley and Lemmerman for the 6-5 advantage.
RHP Deryk Hooker (S, 8) took over for the top of the ninth. After a foul out opened the inning, Fields and Adams worked consecutive walks to put two runners on. However, Hooker responded with back-to-back strikeouts, closing the 6-5 win for the Cardinals.
Click here for the complete box score from Sunday's game.
The Cardinals hit the road for a seven-game trip starting on Monday with a 7:05pm First Pitch in Tulsa. Catch all the action live on Jock 98.7FM and SpringfieldCardinals.com, and tune in 15 minutes early for the Coyote's Sports Cafe Pregame Show.
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