Springfield, MO – RHP Chris Ellis dealt seven shutout innings to help guide the Springfield Cardinals to the 5-3 win against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals before the sellout crowd of 6,935 fans at Hammons Field on Thursday night.
The Cardinals (25-16, 60-51) rallied in front in the bottom of the second inning against LHP Emilio Ogando (L, 7-8). 1B John Nogowski sparked the charge with a leadoff double, before moving to third on a single from DH Anthony Garcia. 2B Eliezer Alvarez provided the go-ahead drive with a towering RBI ground-rule double to left-center field, plating Nogowski and moving Garcia around to third base. C Andrew Knizner and LF Randy Arozarena skied consecutive RBI sacrifice flies, opening the Cardinals lead to 3-0.
Springfield kept swinging in the bottom of the third inning. With one away, CF Oscar Mercado crushed a solo home run to left field, his 11th long-ball of the season, increasing the lead to 4-0.
Cardinals RHP Chris Ellis (W, 3-6) kept the lead intact with seven stifling innings on the mound, shutting out the Naturals (16-25, 55-56) through his start. The right-hander allowed just five hits and one walk while striking out five, posting his second-straight 7.0-inning start.
RHP Pedro Echemendia dealt a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, before the Cardinals tacked on a fifth run in the bottom of the eighth. Mercado opened the inning being hit by a pitch, before swiping his league-leading 34th base to take second. Later in the frame, Alvarez struck again with another RBI double, plating Mercado to make it a 5-0 lead.
The Naturals, though, refused to go down without a fight. RF Cody Jones opened the top of the ninth with a single, before moving to second when DH Hunter Dozier walked. 1B Samir Duenez drilled an RBI single, followed by an RBI double from 3B Mauricio Ramos, bringing the Naturals within three runs and leading to RHP Andrew Morales taking over. Morales retired his first batter for the second out, but LF Alfredo Escalera worked a walk to keep the game going. SS Humberto Arteaga then knocked an RBI single through the right side, bringing in Ramos to cut it to a two-run game. However, Morales battled back with a strikeout of C Allan de San Miguel, slamming the door for the 5-3 win for Springfield.