Springdale, AR – The Springfield Cardinals claimed the opener from the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, 7-3, before 3,262 fans at Arvest Ballpark on Tuesday night. With the win, the Cardinals remain 1.0 game in front of the Tulsa Drillers for 1st place in the North Division Second Half Standings.
The Cardinals (38-19, 73-54) got out to a quick start, striking for three runs in the top of the first against RHP Zach Lovvorn (L, 4-7). LF Magneuris Sierra started the game with a walk to reach base. One out later, 3B Darren Seferina sliced a double to left field that led to a fielding error on LF Logan Moon, allowing Sierra to race all the way home from first base. Seferina then scored as RF Adolis Garcia ripped an RBI single to left-center field, doubling the early lead to 2-0. After a walk and a fly out, DH Anthony Garcia brought Adolis Garcia home from second with a two-out RBI single to center field, increasing the Cardinals lead to 3-0.
After a perfect bottom of the first from RHP Ryan Helsley (W, 3-0), Springfield further stretched the lead in the top of the second. With two away, CF Oscar Mercado extended the inning with a double to left-center field. 3B Darren Seferina then crushed a two-run blast to right field, his fifth home run in Double-A, opening the Cardinals lead to 5-0.
The Naturals (22-35, 61-66) got one of the runs back in the bottom of the second. With one away, DH Ryan O’Hearn drove a solo home run out to left-center field, shaving the Cardinals lead to 5-1.
Springfield, though, responded in the top of the fifth to open the lead back to five runs. With one away, RF Adolis Garcia singled himself aboard. 1B Jacob Wilson followed with a free pass, putting runners at first and second and leading to RHP Yunior Marte entering on the mound. Marte induced a fielder’s choice from 2B Eliezer Alvarez, but 2B Humberto Arteaga dropped the ball at second base with the error allowing everyone to be safe on the play. With three on and one away, DH Anthony Garcia skied an RBI sacrifice fly to center field, bringing in Adolis Garcia to pad the lead to 6-1.
Helsley struck out the side in the fifth inning, before exiting with two on and one away in the bottom of the sixth. LHP Corey Littrell took over on the mound and retired two Naturals in a row, navigating Springfield out of the jam unscathed. Helsley’s line closed with one run on three hits and two walks while striking out seven through 5.1 innings.
The Naturals, however, chipped away with one run in the seventh against Littrell. With the bases loaded and one down, CF Donnie Dewees rifled an RBI single to left field, bringing in LF Logan Moon from third base. Littrell, though, dug in with an inning-ending double play ball, getting the Cardinals out of the frame with a 6-2 lead.
Springfield got the run back in the top of the eighth. With three on and one down, Mercado drove an RBI sacrifice fly into foul territory in right field, enabling C Andrew Knizner to tag and score from third base for the 7-2 lead.
RHP Tyler Bray took over for the bottom of the ninth and worked around three errors and an unearned run, closing the 7-3 win for the Cardinals.