Springdale, AR – The Springfield Cardinals exploded for 10 runs from the fifth through the seventh innings, running away with the 10-6 win against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals before 7,012 fans at Arvest Ballpark on Wednesday afternoon.
After tallying three hits on Tuesday, CF Harrison Bader helped lead the attackon Wednesday with a 4-for-5 game, including a double and two RBIs. He is leading the league with a .388 batting average through his first 24 games in Double-A.
Facing the reigning Texas League Pitcher of the Week, Cardinals RHP Corey Baker (W, 2-0), Northwest Arkansas (11-14) swung in front right away in the bottom of the first. With one down, RF Orlando Calixte yanked a double down the left field side. One out later with Calixte at third, 3B Hunter Dozier placed an RBI infield single to short, bringing in Calixte for the 1-0 lead.
Although it snapped Baker’s scoreless innings streak after 18 straight frames without a run, Baker got right back on track after the first. The right-hander blanked the Naturals through the rest of his outing, going six innings with just the one run on five hits while striking out five.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals (15-11) bats caught fire in the top of the fourth against LHP Eric Skoglund (L, 1-1). With C Luis Cruz at first and two down, CF Harrison Bader pulled a double to left field, putting runners at second and third. LF C.J. McElroy, Jr. then brought both runners home with a two-run double inside the right field line, swinging Springfield ahead. With McElroy, Jr. at second and two down, 2B Bruce Caldwell sent his team-leading sixth home run over the right field wall, adding to the new lead, 4-1.
Springfield kept swinging away with three runs in the top of the sixth against LHP Estarlin Cordero. After 3B Paul DeJong reached on an error, DH Chris Jacobs worked a walk and SS Breyvic Valera ripped a single to load the bases with no outs. C Luis Cruz then sent an RBI double off the right field fence, plating DeJong but leading to Jacobs being thrown out at home. With two on and one down, Bader and McElroy connected on consecutive RBI singles, capping the sixth-inning rally and increasing the Cardinals lead to 7-1.
The Cardinals kept pouring it on with three more runs in the top of the seventh. RF David Washington led off with a single, before a towering two-run home run to right field from DeJong, his second homer in as many days against the Naturals. One out later, Valera got back on board with a double, before moving to third on a groundout. Bader then brought in Valera with an RBI single, his second RBI and fourth hit of the afternoon, making it a 10-1 lead for Springfield.
RHP Joey Donofrio picked up right where Baker left off with scoreless work in the seventh and eighth, but the Naturals refused to make it easy in the ninth. C Allan de San Miguel and LF Logan Moon started the final frame with back-to-back singles, followed by an RBI double from 2B Jack Lopez. An RBI single from SS Ramon Torres brought in Moon and led to RHP Chris Thomas taking over with two on and no outs. Calixte sent an RBI sacrifice fly to left field, enabling Lopez to score but going as the frame’s first out. However, 1B Ryan O’Hearn connected for a two-run home run to right field, his first Double-A home run in his Naturals debut, bringing Northwest Arkansas within four runs of tying it. Thomas bounced back with a strikeout of Dozier and worked around a CF Bubba Starling double, inducing a fly out off the bat of DH Mauricio Ramos for the final out to close the 10-6 win for the Cardinals.