The Naturals (20-15, 45-60) cracked the scoreless tie with one run in the top of the second inning against RHP Zach Petrick (W, 2-0). 3B Rey Navarro opened the inning with a leadoff single, before RF Lane Adams came through with an RBI double to right-center field one out later, plating Navarro for the 1-0 advantage.
Springfield (17-18, 50-53), though, responded right away in the bottom of the second inning against RHP Brooks Pounders (L, 4-6). On the inning's first pitch, 1B Xavier Scruggs launched a solo home run over the left field wall, evening the score at 1-1.
Scruggs and the Cardinals struck again with five tallies in the bottom of the fourth. Back-to-back walks by 3B Ruben Gotay and DH Chris Swauger started the frame, putting two men on. Scruggs then ripped an RBI single to left field, scoring Gotay and moving Swauger to second base. After a pair of strikeouts dealt by Pounders, RF Adam Melker and C Casey Rasmus both swatted RBI singles to left, continuing the inning and the rally for the 4-1 lead. After LF Mike O'Neill worked a walk to load the bases, CF James Ramsey lined a two-run single to right field, capping the five-run frame and stretching the advantage to 6-1.
The Naturals got one run back in the top of the fifth inning. 1B Whit Merrifield started the frame with a double, quickly moving to third on a ground out by 2B Angel Franco. After a strikeout dealt by Petrick, SS Orlando Calixte lined an RBI single to right field, scoring Merrifield and decreasing the deficit to 6-2.
However, Springfield stretched it right back out in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Melker singled to start the inning, Rasmus grounded into a fielder's choice and took over as the runner at first base. Rasmus swiped second base for the second time in the game, and then cruised home on an RBI triple by O'Neill into the right field corner to increase the lead to 7-2.
After Petrick kept the Naturals bats in check through his six innings, surrendering only the two runs while striking out nine, the Cardinals bullpen provided scoreless relief. LHP Justin Wright, RHP Heath Wyatt and LHP Lee Stoppelman each dealt a scoreless relief frame, closing the 7-2 win for Springfield.
The Cardinals series with Northwest Arkansas continues at Hammons Field Saturday with 1st pitch set for 6:09 p.m.