The Springfield Cardinals finally have a win in 2019, and it happened in a wild, walk-off home opener at Hammons Field.
Second baseman Irving Lopez hit a game ending two run homer over the right field wall in the bottom of the ninth as the Cards beat the Northwest Arkansas Naturals 12-11.
The win snaps a seven game losing streak for Springfield, it’s longest skid to start a season in team history.
The Cardinals jumped ahead 4-0 with a pair of two-run innings in the second and the third.
Catcher Jose Godoy’s RBI single to center got the scoring started, with Irving Lopez lining a double to right to make it a 2-0 Cardinal lead.
In the third, Elehuris Montero doubled to center, scoring Evan Mendoza.
Shortstop Kramer Robertson singled in Montero for the fourth run in the game.
The Naturals cut the lead in half, 4-2, on Gabriel Cancel’s two run bomb over the left field wall in the fourth.
Northwest Arkansas then took the lead for the first time, scoring three runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by a bizarre play.
After Travis Jones’ RBI single pulled the Naturals within a run, 4-3, Northwest Arkansas loaded the bases with two outs.
Designated hitter Samir Duenez hit a ground ball to Lopez at second base. He fielded the ball cleanly, but had nowhere to go with it because no one was covering first. Not only did Anderson Miller score, but an alert Jones scored all the way from second without the ball getting out of the infield. That put the Naturals ahead 5-4.
But Springfield’s offense was just getting started as Robertson hit a two run homer over the wall in left in the bottom of the fifth, putting the Cardinals back in front 6-5.
Taylor Featherston’s home run to center in the top of the sixth tied the contest 6-6, and it stayed that way until the Cardinals broke out for three runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Montero’s run scoring single and Godoy’s two run double to right gave Springfield a 9-6 lead.
But just as quickly as the Cards grabbed the advantage, they gave it right back to the Naturals, who knotted the contest 9-9 with a three run eighth.
The inning included a bases loaded walk and a sacrifice fly.
Northwest Arkansas took the lead again in the top of the ninth, 11-9, on Featherston’s run scoring single to center and an infield hit by D.J. Burt.
The Cardinals had one last chance to rally against Naturals’ reliever Yunior Marte (0-2) in the bottom of the ninth.
Designated hitter Scott Hurst got it started with a base hit, then Robertson reached on a fielding error by third baseman Emmanuel Rivera.
Godoy lined to center for the first out, setting up Lopez’ heroics.
Jacob Patterson (1-1) pitched the final third of an inning for Springfield to earn the victory.
The Cardinals and Naturals will play against Friday night at 7:10 with Harold Arauz (0-0, 4.05 ERA) taking the mound for Springfield.
Ofreidy Gomez (0-0, 5.79 ERA) gets the start for Northwest Arkansas.
Lopez’ walk-off homer is the first for the Cardinals since Johan Mieses hit one on August 18th of last year against Corpus Christi.
The seven losses to start a season are a club record for Springfield, breaking the previous record of six set in 2008.
Thursday’s announced attendance at Hammons Field was 5,743. Those who stuck around for the three hour, 37 minute game were treated to fireworks afterward.