Springfield keeps pace with Tulsa Thursday

Springdale, AR – RHP Luke Weaver tossed a career-high eight innings, leading the Springfield Cardinals to the 2-1 win against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals before 5,331 fans at Arvest Ballpark on Thursday night. 

With the win, the Cardinals keep pace with the Tulsa Drillers, who also won on Thursday, in their battle for 1st place in the North Division First Half Standings. With only four games remaining in the half, the Drillers (37-28) hold a half-game lead over the Cardinals (37-29) for the top spot. The two teams will close the 1st Half with two head-to-head games in Tulsa on Sunday and Monday. 

After two quick and scoreless innings from Weaver (W, 3-0), the Cardinals bats broke through against Naturals RHP Pedro Fernandez (L, 0-2) in the top of the third. LF Jonathan Rodriguez opened the inning with a walk, before racing around to third on 2B Bruce Caldwell's second double in as many at-bats. CF Harrison Bader and DH Luke Voit then came through with consecutive RBI sacrifice flies, scoring Rodriguez and Caldwell, respectively, to open the 2-0 lead. 

Weaver kept the two run lead intact through his first five scoreless innings, at one point retiring nine Naturals in a row. 

Northwest Arkansas (29-37) managed to crack the scoreboard with their only run against Weaver in the bottom of the sixth. With two away and the bases empty, RF Logan Moon reached on a single. C Cameron Gallagher then rifled an RBI double to left field, plating Moon from first base and slicing the Cardinals lead in half, 2-1. 

Weaver ensured the one-run advantage held up through his final two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth. He closed the longest outing of his career with only the one run surrendered on seven hits, while striking out six and not issuing a single walk. Through three starts, Weaver's ERA is 0.89. 

With Weaver at 100 pitches on the night, RHP Kevin Herget (S, 4) took over to start the bottom of the ninth. After a quick opening out, LF Ryan O'Hearn pulled a single through the right side of the infield. CF Bubba Starling then bounced into a fielder's choice that retired O'Hearn and left Starling at first base with two down. With 1B Frank Schwindel at bat, Herget sailed a wild pitch to the backstop, enabling Starling to scoot to second base. Herget and Schwindel continued to fight through a 12-pitch plate appearance, but Herget won the battle with a game-ending strikeout to close the 2-1 win for the Cardinals. 

Click here for the complete box score from Thursday's game.