North Little Rock, AR - The Arkansas Travelers hung on in a battle of a series opener against the Springfield Cardinals, claiming the 6-4 win before 8,082 fans at Dickey-Stephens Park on Sunday evening.
The Travelers (11-12, 45-48) opened an early advantage with three runs (only one earned) against RHP Mike Mayers (L, 1-3) in the bottom of the first. With two on and one away, 1B Brian Hernandez placed an RBI base hit through the middle to open an early advantage. One out later with two on, Mayers induced a fly ball to deep left-center that CF Rafael Ortega ran down but couldn't quite keep in his glove, resulting in a two-run error to stretch it to 3-0.
After the Travs added another unearned run on a miscue in the second, the Cardinals (9-14, 43-50) got on the board in the top of the third against RHP Orangel Arenas. LF Mike O'Neill led off with a single, before racing to second on a base hit by C Cody Stanley. After a strikeout, 1B Jonathan Rodriguez worked a walk to load the bases. Ortega then skied an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, plating O'Neill to cut it to a 4-1 deficit.
Springfield continued to swing closer with two more tallies in the top of the fourth. RF Starlin Rodriguez sparked the offense with a single to start the frame. 3B Matt Williams then laid down a bunt single that led to a throwing error on Arenas, enabling Rodriguez to get all the way to third on the play. SS Alex Mejia brought in Rodriguez with an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, marking Mejia's second straight game with an RBI. After Williams swiped his eighth base on the season to get to second, O'Neill brought him in with an RBI ground-rule double to left field, bringing the Cardinals within just one run of tying it, 4-3.
However, the Travelers dealt the next blow with two crucial insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth. With one down, 1B Brian Hernandez singled himself on before a double from LF Mike Bianucci, putting runners at second and third. RHP Ronnie Shaban battled back with a groundout for the second out of the inning, before giving way to LHP Iden Nazario. DH Drew Heid, though, won the battle against Nazario with a two-run single to center field, bringing in both runners to stretch the Travelers lead to 6-3.
Springfield refused to go down without a fight, chipping away in the top of the sixth. O'Neill got the offense going again with a one-out walk, his third time on base in the game. Stanley, the Texas League leader with a .307 average, ripped his second single to right field that led to a throwing error on RF Adam Melker, the former Springfield Cardinal. The single and error combined to score O'Neill all the way from first base, as the Cards once again reduced the Travs lead to just 6-4.
Nazario combined with RHP Chris Thomas to retire 10 straight outs, keeping the Cardinals close the rest of the way. However, Arkansas RHP Danny Reynolds countered with a scoreless seventh and eighth, before RHP RJ Alvarez (S, 1) took over for the ninth.
Down to their final two outs, the Cardinals received consecutive singles from 2B Breyvic Valera, who had three hits, and RF Starlin Rodriguez to get the tying runs aboard. However, Alvarez induced a game-ending double play and the Travelers escaped with the 6-4 win. RHP Kevin Johnson (W, 2-3) tossed 1.2 relief innings for Arkansas to log the win.
Click here for the complete box score from Sunday's game.
Guarantee Individual Promo Items with the brand-new Promo Seats
The brand-new Promo Seats Package includes one Diamond Box Ticket for a game featuring a Promotional Item and guarantees that you receive one of that night's Promotional Items, plus a portion of the ticket sales will benefit the Hamels Foundation Cardinals Youth Initiative to provide tickets for area youth and non-profit organizations.
By purchasing the Promo Seats, fans will have an item reserved for them regardless of where they are in line or what time they arrive at the game. And, for the first time, out-of-town fans that order a Promo Seat Package can choose to have their Promotional Item mailed to them for an additional shipping and handling charge of $10 per item. Both out of town fans and those unable to make the game may donate their game ticket to the Hamels Foundation Cardinals Youth Initiative.
Promo Seat Packages are just $28 each and there are only 61 available for each game. Call the Ticket Office at (417) 863-2143 right now to order yours!
Click here for more information on Cardinals Promo Seats.
Cards kick off homestand this Thursday with Louie Bobblehead Photo Frames
The Cardinals continue the road trip against the Arkansas Travelers on Monday at 7:10pm. 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.
The Cardinals then return home to begin a seven-game homestand on Thursday, July 17. Don't miss the American National Louie Bobblehead Photo Frame Giveaway for 2,500 fans on Thursday. Thursday is also a "Buck a Brat" Night with $1 Bratwursts, along with Missouri Lottery Baseball Bingo throughout the game. First Pitch is 7:10pm, gates open at 6:10pm.
The homestand will also feature -
-AM Pyrotechnics Friday Night Fireworks featuring Boy Band Music on Friday, July 18. First Pitch is 7:10pm, gates open at 6:10pm.
-Great Southern Bank Commemorative 10th Season Ring Giveaway (2,500) on Saturday, July 19. First Pitch is 6:10pm, gates open at 5:10pm.
-Hiland Dairy Replica Batting Helmet Giveaway (2,500), Hiland Dairy Ice Cream Sunday and The Track Family Fun Parks Kids Race the Bases on Sunday, July 20. First Pitch is 6:10pm, gates open at 5:10pm.
-St. Louis Cardinals 2004 National League Championship Replica Ring Giveaway (2,500) and Great Southern Bank $1 Dog Day on Tuesday, July 22. First Pitch is 7:10pm, gates open at 6:10pm.
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.
Click here for the complete 2014 Promotional Schedule and to get 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.