North Little Rock, AR – The Springfield Cardinals nailed down their fifth straight series win with a 3-1 victory against the Arkansas Travelers before 2,530 fans at Dickey-Stephens Park on Sunday evening. With 10 wins in their last 11 games, the Cardinals increase their lead for 1st place in the North Division Second Half Standings to 3.0 games over the Tulsa Drillers.
Cardinals RHP Sandy Alcantara (W, 6-5) and Travelers RHP Dylan Unsworth (L, 9-7) dueled back and forth through three scoreless innings to start, before Springfield (20-10, 55-45) seized the lead in the top of the fourth. CF Oscar Mercado and 2B Darren Seferina started the stanza with consecutive singles, putting runners at first and third with no outs. After a pitch taken by DH Anthony Garcia, Travs C Tyler Marlette attempted to throw the ball back to the pitcher, Unsworth, on the mound. However, Marlette errantly threw the ball away from Unsworth, allowing Mercado to race home on the error for the 1-0 Cardinals lead.
Unsworth responded by rattling off 12 straight outs to keep the Cardinals at only one run through his seven frames. However, Alcantara countered with scoreless work of his own, shutting down the Travs (13-17, 45-55) bats through his seven innings. Alcantara allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out four, keeping the Cardinals in the 1-0 lead.
The Cardinals then padded the lead against RHP Peter Tago in the top of the eighth. Leading off the inning, C Andrew Knizner singled himself on, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. After moving to second and third on a pair of wild pitches, Knizner was joined on base by 3B Jacob Wilson as he worked a walk. With runners at the corners, SS Tommy Edman grounded out to first base, though it did advance Wilson to second. RF Magneuris Sierra then brought both runners home with a two-run single up the middle, stretching the lead to 3-0.
After 21 straight scoreless innings tossed throughout the series, the Travelers scored their first run since the fourth inning on Friday in the bottom of the eighth inning on Sunday. With RHP Tyler Bray relieving Alcantara to start the inning, CF Braden Bishop worked a leadoff walk. DH Dario Pizzano chopped into a fielder’s choice that retired Bishop but led to a throwing error on SS Tommy Edman, enabling Pizzano to reach second on the play. Consecutive walks then loaded the bases and led to RHP Rowan Wick (S, 3) taking over on the mound. Wick got 1B Ryan Casteel to fly out to left field, serving as the second out of the inning despite allowing Pizzano to tag and score on the sacrifice fly. After a walk, Wick got out of the jam with a lineout that was caught by Edman, ending the threat with the Cardinals up, 3-1.
Wick then worked around a walk in the bottom of the ninth to close the 3-1 win for Springfield with a scoreless final frame.