Late Naturals Rally Falls Just Short
Down 7-0, Naturals mount six-run eighth
By Frank Novak / Northwest Arkansas Naturals

SPRINGDALE, AR- One day after clinching their spot in the Texas League Playoffs, the Naturals showed the same type of resiliency that got them a few wins along the way, but fell just short in a 7-6 loss to the Springfield Cardinals at Arvest Ballpark.

After staking Springfield to a 7-0 lead by the fifth inning, the Naturals woke up, sending 11 men to the plate in a six run eighth inning, and got the tying run on in the ninth, but fell just short.

Still facing Cards' starter Ryan Kulik (5-1), tossing a shutout through seven frames, Chris McConnell singled to start the inning and Paulo Orlando followed with a walk. Johnny Giavotella followed and flied out to right, and then Mike Moustakas reached on an error by Springfield first baseman Curt Smith. McConnell scored on the play to break up the shutout, and Kulik was lifted in favor of Thomas Eager coming from the Cards' bullpen. Eager allowed an RBI double to Nick Van Stratten which brought in Orlando, and Ernesto Mejia followed with a two-run double that scored Moustakas and Van Stratten to make it 7-4.

Eager was then yanked and hard-throwing Adam Reifer came on in relief. He got Tim Smith to groundout for the second out, and then Anthony Seratelli singled to score Mejia. A scary moment ensued as Clint Robinson was brought in off the bench to pinch hit for the catcher Ben Theriot. Reifer plunked Robinson in the hand with a fastball. Jeff Howell had to run for Robinson, who was sent to the clubhouse for treatment. He will be evaluated and x-rayed tomorrow. McConnell, the tenth man to step to the plate in the frame, followed and singled home Seratelli to cut the lead to 7-6. But Paulo Orlando's ensuing fly ball to center was caught to end the frame.

Mike Moustakas hit a broken bat single with one out in the ninth to get the tying run aboard against Cardinals' closer Eduardo Sanchez, but Sanchez got Van Stratten to line out and Mejia to ground into a force out to earn his tenth save on the year.

Kulik, who was cruising until the speed bump in the eighth, got the win. He was charged with three runs (two earned) over 7 1/3 innings. He allowed five hits, walked four, and fanned three.

The Cardinals took the early lead Sunday night as Tyler Henley singled with one out and came around to score on an RBI double by Adron Chambers to grab a 1-0 lead.

Springfield added to their lead in the third as Pete Kozma led off with a solo home run, his eighth of the season, to make it 2-0. After Tony Cruz followed with a walk, he advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by Curt Smith to extend the lead to 3-0.

In the fourth, Springfield continued to swing the bats well as they plated three more runs. With one out, Antone DeJesus singled and Pete Kozma singled before Tony Cruz doubled down the left field line to score both runners. Matt Carpenter would follow with an RBI double to left center to bring home Cruz to make the score 6-0.

Springfield (36-32) tacked on another run in the fifth as Antone DeJesus singled into center field to score Adron Chambers to put the Cards up by seven runs.

Naturals' starter Everett Teaford (6-3) lasted 3 1/3 and took the loss. He was charged with ten hits and six runs, striking out six and issuing one walk. Sidearming lefty Rowdy Hardy was stellar in relief for the Naturals (40-28), allowing just one run in 5 2/3 innings in one of the longest relief outings in Naturals history. Former right-hander Chris Hayes tossed six innings in relief during an extra inning win over the Travelers on May 4th, 2009.

The Naturals now welcome in the Tulsa Drillers for the first of four games on Monday evening at 7:00 P.M. as the eight-game homestand continues here at Arvest Ballpark. Monday, the Naturals send right-hander Aaron Crow (3-6, 5.96) to the mound opposite left-hander Keith Weiser (5-4, 2.84). Crow has struggled for the better part of the past month and is looking to rebound, while the Naturals will look to solve Weiser who beat them on the road last week in Tulsa.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. The Naturals have a toll-free ticket hotline (1-877-444-2637) for fans to purchase Naturals tickets. Our website, offers fans the opportunity to purchase tickets online and avoid lines at the ticket windows by printing their tickets at home or at the office.