Springfield, MO - RHP Jack Flaherty matched a career-high with 12 strikeouts through seven one-run innings to help pace the Springfield Cardinals to the 4-3 win against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals before 4,741 fans at Hammons Field on Friday night.
Flaherty (W, 5-0) and Naturals RHP Zach Lovvorn (L, 2-2) both struck out the side in the first, before Northwest Arkansas (14-12) swung in front in the second. Leading off the inning, 1B Frank Schwindel swatted a solo home run to left field, lifting the Naturals into the 1-0 lead.
Flaherty responded to the home run by rattling off 14 straight outs, a streak that lasted until a two-out walk in the sixth. He worked around the free pass to close the sixth inning, before wrapping up his outing with a scoreless seventh. Flaherty finished with just the one run allowed on two hits and one walk, matching a career high with 12 strikeouts, just one shy from tying the Cardinals all-time record for most individual strikeouts in a game.
While Flaherty was dominating, the Cardinals (14-12) catapulted in front in the bottom of the third against Lovvern. One night after extending his hitting streak to a team record 19 games, CF Oscar Mercado worked a leadoff walk to start the frame and extend his 24-game on-base streak, including every game he's played this year. Mercado then raced around to third on SS Alex Mejia's league-leading 13th double of the year, putting runners at second and third. RF Adolis Garcia brought both runners in with a two-run single ripped through the right side, propelling Springfield into the 2-1 lead.
Flaherty struck out two more in a 1-2-3 top of the fourth, increasing his strikeout total to nine through just the first four innings, before the Cardinals got back at it in the bottom of the fourth. 3B Jacob Wilson launched a leadoff double to left-center field. One out later, Wilson raced home on an RBI single by C Gabriel Lino for the 3-1 advantage.
The Cardinals continued to stretch the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Mercado started the stanza with a triple to right-center, extending his team-record hitting streak to 20 straight games. After Mejia worked a walk, RF Adolis Garcia bounced into a double play that retired Mejia but also allowed Mercado to dart in from third to make it 4-1.
After Flaherty finished off the Naturals in the seventh, RHP Tyler Bray took over with a scoreless eighth.
However, the Naturals put together one last charge in the top of the ninth. Facing Bray, DH Samir Duenez singled to start the inning, followed by a 1B Frank Schwindel walk and a 3B Mauricio Ramos base hit to load the bases with no outs. Ramos was replaced by INF Jack Lopez as a pinch runner, while Bray gave way to RHP Kevin Herget (S, 3) on the mound. C Zane Evans, though, lined a base hit up the middle to score two runs and bring the Naturals within one run of tying it. A sacrifice bunt from SS Humberto Arteaga moved the runners to second and third with only one down, before Springfield elected to intentionally walk 2B Ruben Sosa, Jr. to load the bases. Herget got the very next batter, RF Logan Moon, to bounce into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play, and the Cardinals held on for the 4-3 win.
Cardinals kick off the road trip on Saturday in Tulsa
The Cardinals hit the road for an eight-game road trip starting on Saturday at 7:05pm in Tulsa. 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.
The Cardinals then return home for an eight-game homestand from Monday, May 15 - Monday, May 22. Click the link below to view the full lineup of can't-miss promotions and to order your tickets right now.
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