Springfield, MO - The Springfield Cardinals completed the four-game sweep of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals with a 5-2 win before the sellout crowd of 6,768 fans at Hammons Field on Sunday evening. It marked the fourth straight sellout crowd at Hammons Field.
After Cardinals RHP Ryan Helsley (W, 1-0) and Naturals LHP Foster Griffin (L, 8-4) went back and forth through two scoreless innings apiece, the Cardinals (28-16, 63-51) powered in front in the top of the third inning. With two away and the bases clear, CF Oscar Mercado crushed a solo home run to left field, his 12th blast of the season, lifting Springfield into the 1-0 lead.
Springfield stretched the lead with a three-run rally against Griffin in the bottom of the fourth. LF Randy Arozarena sparked the rally with a leadoff single, followed by consecutive walks from 1B John Nogowski and DH Anthony Garcia. With the bases loaded and no outs, 2B Eliezer Alvarez drilled an RBI sacrifice fly to right-center field, bringing home Arozarena. C Andrew Knizner followed with an RBI double to left-center field that brought in Nogowski and moved Garcia to third. Garcia then darted home from third on an RBI sacrifice fly from 3B Darren Seferina, increasing the Cardinals lead to 4-0.
Helsley kept the Naturals (16-28, 55-59) at bay through his first five scoreless innings, before Northwest Arkansas broke through in the top of the sixth. Leading off the frame, C Allan de San Miguel skied a solo shot to left field, shaving the Naturals deficit to 4-1.
The Cardinals got the run right back in the bottom of the sixth. Knizner started the stanza with a single, before racing to third base one out later on a base knock from Seferina. Mercado brought Knizner in with an RBI sacrifice fly to center field, padding the lead back to four runs, 5-1.
Northwest Arkansas responded in the top of the seventh. With Helsley still on the hill, 1B Samir Duenez opened the inning with a walk, before advancing to third on a single from 3B Mauricio Ramos. A broken bat single past the mound from DH Alfredo Escalera then plated Duenez, decreasing the Naturals deficit to three runs. Helsley battled back with consecutive strikeouts, before losing de San Miguel to a walk. RHP Andrew Morales, though, took over and induced an inning-ending pop out to get the Cardinals out of the jam with a 5-2 lead.
Helsley closed his Hammons Field debut with 6.2 innings, allowing just two runs on six hits and two walks while rattling off eight strikeouts. Morales picked up right where Helsley left off, posting 2.1 scoreless frames the rest of the way to close the 5-2 win for the Cardinals.
1987 National League Championship Replica Rings, Charlie Brown Bobbleheads, Friday Night Fireworks and more during August 15 - 20 Homestand
The Cardinals kick off the road trip in San Antonio at 7:05pm on Tuesday night. Catch all the action live on Jock 98.7 FM and SpringfieldCardinals.com, and tune in 15 minutes early for the Coyote's Sports Cafe Pregame Show.
Springfield then returns home for the next fun-filled homestand from Tuesday, August 15 - Sunday, August 20. Don't miss any of the upcoming fun, including:
-Tuesday, August 15, 6:30pm - Great Southern Bank $1 Dog Day. Gates open at 5:30pm.
-Wednesday, August 16, 6:30pm - Wednesday Night Baseball vs. San Antonio Missions. Gates open at 5:30pm.
-Thursday, August 17, 7:10pm - St. Louis Cardinals Replica 1987 National League Championship Ring Giveaway (2,000) and Klement's "Buck a Brat" Night. Gates open at 6:10pm.
-Friday, August 18, 7:10pm - AM Pyrotechnics Friday Night Fireworks highlighting 20th Anniversary of 1997 Hits. Gates open at 6:10pm.
-Saturday, August 19, 6:10pm - St. Louis Cardinals Charlie Brown & Peanuts 50th Anniversary Bobblehead Giveaway (2,000). Gates open at 5:10pm.
-Sunday, August 20, 2:10pm - Hiland Dairy Ice Cream Sunday and Kids Run the Bases. Gates open at 1:10pm.
For information about becoming a Season Ticket Holder, organizing a Group Outing, booking a Birthday Party or ordering Individual Game Tickets right now, call the Front Office at (417) 863-2143 or visit SpringfieldCardinals.com.
Click here for the complete 2017 Promotional Schedule and to order your tickets right now.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.