Wednesday night at Hammons Field the Arkansas Travelers took their second straight from Springfield by downing the Cardinals, 6-2. Arkansas' offense produced at least a dozen hits for the second straight game against the Cards. The Travs bullpen combined for four scoreless innings, and Taylor Lindsey moved into a tie for the team lead in homers by launching his eighth of the season in the eighth inning. The Travs now lead Springfield by one game in the North Division with 13 games to play in the first half.
Arkansas threatened during their first at bats against Springfield LH Nick Greenwood. Jimmy Swift doubled to left with one out, but advanced no further. Greenwood fanned C.J. Cron for the second out, and then forced Randal Grichuk into a ground out at shortstop to end the frame.
Springfield opened quickly against Travs RH Mike Piazza in their half of the first. Mike O'Neill doubled to right to open the inning, and then moved to third on a fly out to center field by James Ramsey. Ruben Gotay followed with a single to left field that brought home O'Neill to give the Cards a 1-0 lead. Piazza recovered by picking off Gotay from first before striking out Xavier Scruggs to close the inning.
The Travs responded with a run to even the score in the second. After Greenwood retired Taylor Lindsey and Jett Bandy to open the inning, Drew Heid doubled. That brought Travis Witherspoon to the plate with a runner in scoring position. Witherspoon had only three hits with a runner in scoring position this season when the series began on Tuesday. However, Witherspoon singled and registered his second hit with a runner in scoring position in the last two games. The hit scored Heid, and evened the game score at one.
Springfield threatened in the third against Piazza, but didn't score. Piazza forced two fly outs to start the inning, but found trouble against the top of the batting order. Mike O'Neill and James Ramsey singled before Ruben Gotay walked to jam the bases. That brought the clean-up hitter Xavier Scruggs to the plate. Piazza struck out Scruggs on three pitches to end the inning.
Arkansas broke the tie in the next half inning. Randal Grichuk led off with a single, and later scored on a double by Jett Bandy. The double for Bandy was his fourth in his last nine at bats, and gave the Travs a 2-1 lead.
Piazza pitched a clean fourth inning, but ran into some issues in the fifth inning when Cody Stanley opened the frame with a double. Luis Mateo laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced Stanley to third. Mike O'Neill followed and tied the game with his second two-base hit of the game as Stanley came home on the play. Piazza avoided any other damage in the inning when he struck out Ramsey and Scruggs to close the frame with score knotted at two.
However, the Travs answered again in the next half inning. With one out in the top of the sixth, the Travs strung three straight hits together. Grichuk, Taylor Lindsey, and Bandy all singled to load the bases. That brought Drew Heid to the plate. Heid lofted a fly ball to left field that was dropped by Mike O'Neill. O'Neill then threw wildly for third base and into the Travs dugout. The two errors allowed for both Grichuk and Lindsey to score as the Travs took a 4-2 lead.
Nick Greenwood left following the mishap. The southpaw allowed four runs (two earned) on nine hits over 5.1 innings. Heath Wyatt took over and retired both batters he faced in the sixth to strand two inherited runners.
Mike Piazza departed after five innings in favor of Ryan Chaffee entered and retired Springfield in order in the sixth on just four pitches, and followed that up with another perfect inning in the seventh.
Arkansas added an insurance run in the eighth inning when Taylor Lindsey hammered a solo home run that curled around the foul pole, and put the Travs ahead 5-2. The blast for Lindsey tied him for the team lead with Randal Grichuk and marked his fifth of the season against Springfield.
Perhaps Springfield's best chance to erase the deficit came in the bottom of the eighth inning. Buddy Boshers opened the inning for the Travs by allowing a single to James Ramsey, but recovered when he forced Ruben Gotay to fly out to center. Tim Bogar called to the bullpen for RH Elvin Ramirez to face Xavier Scruggs. Scruggs struck out against Ramirez, which marked Scruggs' fourth strikeout of the night. After the next two reached to load the base, Audry Perez came to the plate representing the go ahead run. Ramirez proceeded to quite the Springfield rally, and struck out the Springfield DH looking.
Arkansas added another run to their lead in the ninth inning. Carlos Ramirez doubled and scored on a triple by Jimmy Swift. The hit marked Swift's second extra-base hit and gave the Travs a 6-2 advantage.
Kevin Johnson pitched the ninth inning for the Travs, and kept the Cards from scoring despite allowing two singles to start the inning.
Game three of the series between the Travs and Cards is scheduled for 7:09 p.m. on Thursday at Hammons Field.