Springfield, MO - The Northwest Arkansas Naturals topped the Springfield Cardinals, 8-5, before 4,703 fans at Hammons Field on Friday night.
The Cardinals (14-14) struck early against RHP Tim Melville (W, 1-1), opening a lead with one run in the bottom of the first inning. LF Mike O'Neill started the stanza with a walk. After an error by 2B Justin Trapp on a CF Rafael Ortega grounder enabled O'Neill to take second and Ortega to reach first, RF James Ramsey smoked a single to center field to load the bases. One out later, DH Cody Stanley cracked the scoreless tie with an RBI single, lifting the Cardinals into the 1-0 lead.
The Naturals (11-17), though, came right back against RHP Seth Blair (L, 2-1) to tie the game in the top of the second. Northwest Arkansas loaded the bases with no outs after a pair of walks and a single, before a double play ball brought in the tying run to make it 1-1.
Springfield swung back in front in the bottom of the fourth frame. Stanley sparked the charge with a leadoff triple to right-center field. 3B Patrick Wisdom promptly followed with an RBI double to left-center, bringing in Stanley to make it 2-1. Wisdom then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from SS Luis Mateo, before darting in on a fielding error committed by SS Angel Franco, stretching the lead to 3-1.
Northwest Arkansas again battled it back even with two runs in the top of the sixth inning. With one down, LF Whit Merrifield worked a walk and RF Jorge Bonifacio singled, putting two men on. 3B Cheslor Cuthbert then drove an RBI double to center field, bringing in Merrifield and advancing Bonifacio to third. DH Mark Threlkeld plated Bonifacio with an RBI groundout, tying it at 3-3.
The Naturals then tilted the lead in their favor in the top of the seventh inning. Franco worked a walk to start the inning, which led to Blair giving way to LHP Danny Miranda on the mound. A sacrifice bunt advanced Franco to second base, before he moved to third on a wild pitch. CF Lane Adams was walked intentionally to put runners at the corners, but 2B Justin Trapp laid down an RBI squeeze bunt that scored Franco for the 4-3 lead. Merrifield then hammered a two-run triple, before coming in on an RBI sacrifice fly from Bonifacio to stretch the new advantage to 7-3.
After Northwest Arkansas added an eighth run in the top of the ninth, the Cardinals attempted the comeback in the bottom of the ninth. C Travis Tartamella started the inning by reaching on an error, before moving to third on a single by Ortega one out later. Ramsey followed with an RBI groundout to second base, bringing in Tartamella from third and moving Ortega to second. Ortega then moved up the final 180 feet on consecutive wild pitches from RHP Malcom Culver, bringing the Cardinals within three runs of tying it. However, after a 1B Curt Smith single, Culver settled in and retired the final out to close the 8-5 win for the Naturals.
Click here for the complete box score from Friday's game.
Price Cutter and Bar-S Foods 10th Season T-Shirt Giveaway this Saturday
In addition to the great lineup of promotions, this weekend's series will feature two rehabbing St. Louis Cardinals in LHP Jaime Garcia and RHP Jason Motte. Garcia is scheduled to start Sunday's 2:10pm game against the Tulsa Drillers and Motte is also expected to join the team.
The homestand continues with the Price Cutter and Bar-S Foods 10th Season T-Shirt Giveaway for 2,500 fans. Gates open at 5:10pm before the 6:10pm First Pitch.
Sunday's 2:10pm game features the Empire Bank Green Cap Giveaway for 2,500 fans. Sunday is also a Hiland Dairy Ice Cream Sunday with free ice cream for kids before the game, and then all kids can run the bases just like the Cardinals after the game with The Track Family Fun Parks Kids Race the Bases. Sunday also features the Cardinals Bat Auction to benefit Cherish Kids. Gates open at 1:10pm.
The Cardinals and Drillers will then square off in consecutive morning games on Monday and Tuesday with both games starting at 11:10am. Gates open both days at 10:10am.
For information about becoming a Season Ticket Holder, organizing a Group Outing, booking a The Cup Birthday Party or ordering Individual Game Tickets right now, call the Front Office at (417) 863-2143 or visit SpringfieldCardinals.com.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.