Big ninth inning helps Naturals take the series from the Cards

By Eric Gallo / Northwest Arkansas Naturals
04/29/2010 11:14 PM ET

Springfield, MO- Ernesto Mejia who had been struggling at the plate this season, showed off his power, as his two home runs propelled the Naturals to the 9-2 victory over Springfield Thursday night.

The game was scoreless until the Cardinals (12-8) put two runs on the board din the bottom of the fourth. With Pete Kozma on first, Andrew Brown singled to third with two out, which put runners on the corners. Aaron Luna then brought Kozma home on a line drive. Then James Rapoport singled on a ground ball that deflected off pitcher Aaron Crow. The base hit brought Brown home, and gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

The Naturals (12-8) offense finally got going the in the seventh inning. Ernesto Mejia led the inning off in style with a solo home run over the center field wall. The shot was Mejia's second of the season, and cut the Cardinals lead to just one. Chris McConnell walked before advancing to third on a ground out by Anthony Seratelli. Johnny Giavotella then brought McConnell home on a base hit to center. The run tied the game up at 2-2.

The game was tied up at two until the Naturals broke the game open in the ninth inning. Paulo Orlando started the inning by being hit by a pitch. A wild pitch with Chris McConnell at the plate advanced Orlando to second. After McConnell walked, Seratelli hit into what should have been an out, but the Cardinals had a throwing error that also helped Orlando score. The run put the Naturals up 3-2 with no one out. Another error cost the Cardinals dearly as Mike Moustakas hit into what should have been the second out of the inning. However, the error allowed Moustakas to reach safely, and also brought home McConnell and Giavotella. Later in the inning with one out, Manny Pina brought Moustakas home on a sacrifice fly to right field. The run was the Naturals fourth of the inning. The inning ended with a bang for the Naturals as Mejia jacked his second home run of the game with two men on base. The three run homer, which was Mejia's third of the year, extended the Naturals lead to 9-2.

The Cardinals were put down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth as the win gave the Naturals the series. The win also put the Naturals back into a tie for the division lead with Springfield.

Aaron Crow (1-1) picked up his first win of the season for the Naturals. Crow pitched eight innings, gave up two earned runs on six hits, and struck out six. Louis Coleman closed out the final inning for the Naturals, and did not allow a hit.

Eduardo Sanchez (1-1) suffered the loss for the Cardinals. Sanchez pitched just a third of an inning, and gave up three unearned runs. David Kopp started the game for the Cardinals, and pitched six innings shut out innings in a no decision.

The Naturals now head to North Little Rock to continue the Arkansas Diamond Series with the Travelers. Naturals newcomer, and the Royals top prospect Mike Montgomery, will take the mound Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

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. You can purchase tickets and group outings with the Naturals by calling (479) 927-4900.