The Arkansas Travelers took the opening game of the series against the Springfield Cardinals, 14-5, before 5,392 fans at Hammons Field on Thursday night.
The Travs (2-1, 35-37) got off to a quick start, striking for the game's first run in the top of the first against LHP Jonathan Cornelius (L, 0-2). After a RF Randal Grichuk double and a fly out by 2B Taylor Lindsey, LF Luis Montanez bounced an RBI single through the middle, plating Grichuk for the 1-0 lead.
After Arkansas added a second run on a fielding miscue in the top of the second, the Cardinals (2-1, 35-36) got on the board in the bottom of the third frame against RHP Mike Piazza (W, 3-2). C Cody Stanley and 2B Luis Mateo started the stanza with consecutive singles, putting runners at the corners. LF Mike O'Neill then drove an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, bringing in Stanley from third base to cut it to just a 2-1 deficit.
However, the Travelers responded with three runs in the top of the fourth. With the bases clear and two away, CF Travis Witherspoon worked a walk to keep the inning going. C Jett Bandy followed with an RBI triple to right-center field, plating Witherspoon from first base. RF Randal Grichuk then dealt a two-run shot to left field, stretching the lead to 5-1.
Arkansas kept the attack going in the top of the fifth against LHP Anthony Ferrara. Montanez welcomed Ferrara to the game with a solo home run to start the inning, before 1B CJ Cron worked a walk. 3B Kaleb Cowart then hit a two-run homer to left field, making it 8-1.
Cardinals 3B Ruben Gotay crushed a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, but the Travs responded with three in the top of the eighth. A pair of RBI singles by Montanez and 3B Kaleb Cowart along with an RBI sacrifice fly by SS Jimmy Swift stretched the lead to 11-2.
The Cardinals refused to go down without a fight, striking for three more in the bottom of the eighth. With the bases loaded and one down, SS Jake Lemmerman worked an RBI walk to force in Gotay from third base. An RBI fielder's choice by Stanley and an RBI single by 2B Luis Mateo further decreased the deficit to 11-5.
However, the Travelers had one last rally, plating three more in the top of the ninth to account for the 14-5 final score in the Arkansas win.
The Cardinals, Travelers series continues Friday and fireworks will follow the 7:09pm game at Hammons Field.