Gomber, Car­di­nals down Naturals 6-3

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SCOREBOARD - LE­LAND BAR­CLAY

SPRING­DALE — Spring­field starter Austin Gomber watched as Os­car Mer­cado made a div­ing catch of a line drive that was prob­a­bly headed for ex­tra bases and then tipped his cap to the cen­ter fielder.

It was one of the few op­por­tu­ni­ties that North­west Arkansas had against Gomber, who al­lowed just a lone run through seven stout in­nings in Spring­field’s 6-3 win on Sun­day be­fore 3,329 at Ar­vest Ball­park.

Spring­field (24-13, 59-48) re­mained in first place in the Texas League North di­vi­sion with the win and took the four-game se­ries against the Naturals (14-23, 53-54).

Gomber was roughed up in four pre­vi­ous out­ings against North­west Arkansas this sea­son, al­low­ing 14 earned runs in 21 in­nings. He was 0-3 against the Naturals with a 6.00 earned run av­er­age, but Sun­day was much dif­fer­ent.

“Prob­a­bly just more of what I was do­ing,” Gomber said. “I think I threw well the first time I faced them in April, but I’ve faced th­ese guys a lot the last month of last year and a lot of th­ese guys were in the fall league. Th­ese guys have seen me quite a bit, so it’s al­ways a grind against th­ese guys. To­day was one of those days that went my way.”

Gomber gave up a solo homer to Al­fredo Es­calera, who staked the Naturals to a 1-0 lead in the fourth in­ning.

That was pretty much it against Gomber, who pitched around an er­ror with an in­ning-end­ing dou­ble-play grounder in the first. He yielded a two-out sin­gle to Cody Jones in the fifth in­ning and a one-out sin­gle An­der­son Miller in the sev­enth, his last in­ning to work.

“He changed his plan, he went all fast­balls,” North­west Arkansas Man­ager Vance Wil­son said. “We didn’t ad­just, which is a lit­tle em­bar­rass­ing when you run an of­fense. If I was to guess, I’d say he went 80 per­cent fast­balls 89 to 91 (miles per hour), and we didn’t ad­just.”

Gomber said his fast­ball felt live and that’s what he re­lied on.

“I wasn’t re­ally plan­ning on it, that’s just where the game took me,” Gomber said. “I didn’t think I had my best break­ing ball to­day. I usu­ally throw a good amount of off­speed pitches, and those guys know that. I could tell they were sit­ting on it a lit­tle bit so I just went to the fast­ball. I thought I had a good fast­ball and then the game just took me there.”

Gomber got a big lift in the fifth in­ning. In the top of the in­ning, Jesse Jen­ner sin­gled home a run and Tommy Ed­man scored Jen­ner with a dou­ble for a 2-1 lead for Spring­field. In the bot­tom of the in­ning with one out, Mer­cado made his div­ing catch of a liner off the bat of Al­lan de San Miguel of a ball cer­tainly headed for ex­tra bases.

“Any­time those guys are out there lay­ing out whether they catch it or not but to see guys lay­ing out you al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­fort,” Gomber said. “The fact he was able to catch that was pretty nice.”

Spring­field added two runs in the eighth in­ning on Dar­ren Se­fe­rina’s solo homer and Ja­cob Wil­son’s sac­ri­fice fly, which scored John No­gowski, for a 4-1 lead.

The Naturals an­swered with two runs in the bot­tom of the in­ning on run-scor­ing sin­gles by Don­nie De­wees and Samir Duenez.

Spring­field added two more in the ninth in­ning to bump its lead to 6-3 on Mer­cado’s mam­moth two-run bomb high and far over the bullpen in dead left.

The Naturals threat­ened in the bot­tom of the ninth and had the ty­ing run at the plate af­ter walks by de San Miguel and Jones, but Rowan Wick fi­nally earned the save in a 25-pitch in­ning.

The top four bat­ters in Spring­field’s lineup of Ed­man, Mer­cado, Se­fe­rina and No­gowski com­bined for eight hits in 20 at-bats with three runs scored and four runs bat­ted in, but the lineup as a whole had 12 hits and only one spot was hit­less.


■ Spring­field starter Austin Gomber had his best out­ing of July and the best this sea­son against North­west Akansas in five starts ver­sus the Naturals

■ The top four hit­ters in Spring­field’s bat­ting or­der com­bined for eight hits in 20 at-bats with three runs scored and four runs bat­ted in

■ Molly the Fire Safety dog, spon­sored by the Keep Kids Fire Safe Foun­da­tion, threw out the cer­e­mo­nial first pitch or more ac­cu­rately car­ried the ball from the pitcher’s mound across home plate to the catcher

On Deck: Right-han­der Cory Ray (6-8, 4.63) will start for North­west Arkansas tonight while Justin DeFra­tus (4-5, 4.70) earns the start for Arkansas in the opener of a three-game se­ries. Ray, a Texas A&M prod­uct, has faced Arkansas five times al­ready this sea­son and is 1-3 with 13 earned runs in 22 in­nings of work. Ray has 21 starts this sea­son, which is the sec­ond-most in the Texas League. DeFra­tus is mak­ing his fourth start of the sea­son against the Naturals with two wins and a no de­ci­sion against North­west Arkansas. DeFra­tus has al­lowed just five runs in 18.2 in­nings against the Naturals with two walks and six strike­outs.

Tonight’s Pro­mo­tion: Ozarks Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive Corp. will spon­sor Mon­day Night Lights. Ozarks Elec­tric cus­tomers who bring their elec­tric bill or a Co-op Con­nec­tions Card to the Ar­vest Ball­park Box Of­fice will re­ceive $5 premium tick­ets. Tyson Foods will spon­sor Dol­lar Hot Dogs while In­digo Sky Casino will spon­sor bingo for prizes. Mon­day is also Fel­low­ship Night at Ar­vest Ball­park. Bush Brother’s Food Drive will also take place at Ar­vest Ball­park on Mon­day, ben­e­fit­ting the NWA Food Bank. Fan will re­ceived two free Dugout Premium tick­ets to Mon­day’s game in ex­change for do­nat­ing a food item. The Naturals Team Store is fea­tur­ing a spe­cial on Mon­day where those who spend at least $50 will get a free snap­back cap.

On The Air: KQSM-FM 92.1

On The Web: www.nwa naturals.com

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/BEN GOFF • @NWABENGOFF

John No­gowski (left), Spring­field first base­man, reacts af­ter be­ing called out at sec­ond on a tag by Car­los Diaz, North­west Arkansas sec­ond base­man, in the sixth in­ning Sun­day dur­ing the game at Ar­vest Ball­park in Spring­dale.

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