Springfield, MO – Arkansas LF Dario Pizzano connected for a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the ninth to catapult the Travelers to the eventual 4-3 win against the Springfield Cardinals before 6,467 fans at Hammons Field on Thursday night. The Cardinals remain just 1.0 game behind the Tulsa Drillers for 1st place in the North Division Second Half Standings with four games remaining in the Regular Season.
LHP Austin Gomber made the start for Springfield and rattled off a career-high 11 strikeouts through 6.0 one-run frames. Gomber moves into 2nd in the league with 140 strikeouts on the year.
The Travelers (31-35, 63-73) struck for their lone run against Gomber in the top of the first inning. With runners at the corners and one away, 1B Ryan Casteel placed an RBI single to shallow left-center, bringing home RF Chuck Taylor from third for the early 1-0 lead.
The Cardinals (40-26, 75-61) countered in the bottom of the second against LHP Kyle Hunter. DH Anthony Garcia led off with a triple to center field, before tagging and scoring on a game-tying RBI sacrifice fly from C Andrew Knizner. 2B Bruce Caldwell then clobbered a solo home run beyond the right field fence, his 14th blast of the year, lifting the Cardinals into the 2-1 advantage.
Gomber ensured that the one-run lead remained intact with scoreless work through the rest of his 6.0 innings, but the Travs battled back against LHP Corey Littrell in the top of the seventh. CF Willie Argo led off with a walk, before going to second on a sacrifice bunt from 2B Nelson Ward. After a walk and a single loaded the bases with one down, LF Dario Pizzano tied it with an RBI sacrifice fly to left field, squaring the score at 2-2.
The Cardinals reclaimed the lead right away in the bottom of the seventh. DH Anthony Garcia again sparked the rally with a single to lead off the inning against RHP Blake Perry, before being pinch run for by INF Eliezer Alvarez. Alvarez moved to second base when Perry errantly threw past first base on a pickoff try, but Perry then dug in to retire Knizner for the first out. LHP Ashur Tolliver (W, 1-0) took over and induced a fly out to deep center from Caldwell that recorded the second out but also enabled Alvarez to tag and take third base. With the tying run ninety feet away and two down, 1B John Nogowski came through with an RBI single through the right side, plating Alvarez to move the Cardinals back in front, 3-2.
RHP Landon Beck (L, 1-3) kept the lead intact with a scoreless top of the eighth, but Arkansas had one last strike in the top of the ninth. With one away, Taylor worked his fourth walk of the night to reach base. One out later, with the Travelers down to their final out of the game, Pizzano struck with a go-ahead two-run home run to right field, swinging Arkansas into the 4-3 lead.
The Cardinals refused to go down without a fight in the bottom of the ninth against RHP Darin Gillies (S, 3). 3B Jacob Wilson led off with a walk, before being pinch run for by INF Darren Seferina. Alvarez followed with a base hit, putting runners at first and second with no outs. Gillies, though, dug in with a double play ball from Knizner and a strikeout to Caldwell, and the Travelers hung on for the 4-3 win.