The Springfield Cardinals picked up their fourth win in a row on a chilly Sunday afternoon at Hammons Field, beating the Northwest Arkansas Naturals
In the bottom of the first, an error by Naturals third baseman Emmanuel Rivera ended up significantly costing his team. Evan Mendoza ended up as a two-out baserunner, and following a walk to Brian O’Keefe, Conner Capel hit a moonshot to right center field over the Tracker Boats sign for a 430+ foot home run to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
The Naturals struck back in the top of the second against struggling starter Anthony Shew. Shew hit Naturals shortstop Taylor Featherston with a pitch and sent him to second with a walk to Travis Jones. Shew then threw a wild pitch to put the runners on second and third for Nick Heath, who singled to right to score both runners and cut the lead to 3-2.
Then the Naturals pulled even when Gabriel Cancel hit a home run off the scoreboard in left field to lead off the third inning.
In the bottom of the third, the Cardinals bats came alive. Irving Lopez lined a sharp single to right and went to second on a walk to Dylan Carlson. Evan Mendoza slapped a single to left to load the bases for Brian O’Keefe, who drove a long fly ball to the wall in center, scoring all three runners and giving the Cardinals a 6-3 lead.
The game went without a score until the 8th inning when the Naturals faced new pitcher Will Latcham. Gabriel Cancel, Meibrys Viloria and Emmanuel Rivera all singled to drive in a run to cut the lead to 6-4. After a walk to Xavier Fernandez loaded the bases, Taylor Featherston hit a sacrifice fly to left-center field scoring Viloria. The Cardinals lead was cut to 6-5, and resulted in Will Latcham being taken out of the game.
Merandy Gonzalez came in to pitch for the Cardinals and gave up a sacrifice fly to right to Kort Peterson, tying the game at 6.
The game went into extra innings, where under minor league baseball rules a baserunner is placed at second base for each team, each inning.
In the top of the 10th, after the initial baserunner for the Naturals reached third, a hard ground ball was fielded by shortstop Alberto Triunfel. Instead of playing for double play, Triunfel paused and the runner from third stopped halfway to home, leading to a rundown. When catcher Godoy threw it to Montero at third, the runner dove for the bag and appeared to be safe, but the runner’s momentum took him off the bag and Montero was paying attention enough to dive and make a quick tag while the runner was off base.
In the bottom of the 10th, after a failed attempt to sacrifice runner Scott Hurst to third by Alberto Triunfel, Irving Lopez hit his same game-winning walk-off home run of the season to left field, sealing an 8-6 victory.