The battle for sole possession of first place in American Southern Division ended in a 6-2 road loss by Memphis (10-10) in the series opener.
Boone Whiting (L, 0-2) lacked effectiveness, yielding two each in the first and third plus one in the fourth, his final inning on the mound. All five tallies were produced via eight hits, including a two-run bomb, given up by the righty. Whiting struck out three and did not issue a free pass.
Jose Almarante permitted a solo long ball, one of two hits given up in two frames with two strikeouts. Heath Wyatt and Sam Freeman both allowed a hit in their one-inning stints with Freeman fanning two. No Redbirds' hurler walked a batter.
Memphis pushed across single scores in the third and eighth. The first of Joey Butler's two singles brought in Tommy Pham (fielding error) in the third. Greg Garcia reached in the eighth via his second single of the game, eventually crossing on a wild pitch. Butler and Garcia each had two of their squad's nine hits.
Friday's game: at Round Rock (11-9), 7:05 pm CT, Angel Castro (1-2, 7.62)
The S-Cards' five-run eighth broke open a close contest, leading to an 8-2 win over host Northwest Arkansas for a four-game series split.
Five of the visitors' 12 hits transpired in the eighth, an inning that also featured scores on a hit batsman and base-on-balls. Eight of nine Cardinals had at least one hit, led by Jonathan Rodriguez' 3-for-5 performance. Rodriguez doubled once with a run scored.
Catcher Travis Tartamella had his team's other double to add to a single in four at bats and two driven in. Aledmys Diaz generated the final multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 while crossing home once and swiping a base. Although managing only one hit, both David Popkins and Luis Mateo were responsible for three tallies, scoring two and driving in one.
Player of the Day Jonathan Cornelius followed up his seven-frame, one-run gem against Arkansas on the 19th with another fine performance. The southpaw held the Naturals to two runs, one earned, on four hits and two walks in six. Cornelius threw 88 pitches, 58 for strikes, with five strikeouts, eight groundball outs and six fly-ball outs.
Joe Donofrio continued his excellent spring campaign, tossing two more scoreless innings and giving up just one hit. Donofrio has allowed just two earned runs in 10 1/3 frames covering nine appearances to date, fanning 15 in that span. Logan Billbrough faced the minimum in the ninth.
Friday's game: Springfield (10-10) at Arkansas (8-12), 7:10 pm CT, Kurt Heyer (1-1, 3.28)
The Beach Birds' pitching staff served up 16 hits and eight walks, which not surprisingly led to a 15-5 pounding by St. Lucie in the series' finale. Just like the home St. Louis club did in New York, Palm Beach (9-11) lost three of four to the Mets.
The game got ugly really early as the visitors pounced on Joe Cuda (L, 0-3) for eight runs on six hits and three free passes in just 1 1/3. Three of the four outs Cuda recorded were strikeouts. Robert Stock managed the one of the better performances by the four hurlers, yielding an unearned tally, courtesy of one of three Palm Beach errors, while giving up two hits and three base-on-balls in 3 2/3. Stock was called for a balk and hit one batter.
Aidan Lucas was knocked around for four runs on seven hits and a walk with three K's in two. The only hit given up by Mitch Harris over the final two frames was a two-run blast that came after the only free pass issued by the right-hander.
That spoiled one of the Beach Birds' better offensive efforts, an 11-hit attack resulting in five tallies. Matt Williams accounted for three runs, going 3-for-4 with a walk and two-run home run that brought in Ildemaro Vargas (force). Starlin Rodriguez and Alex Mejia had two hits apiece, Rodriguez touching home once with an RBI. Mejia had three of his team's 12 strikeouts.
Friday's game: at Fort Myers (11-9), 7:05 pm ET, Thomas Lee (1-1, 3.29)
The Chiefs' final of four contests versus the Kernels was postponed due to rain. It will be rescheduled as part of the May 2-4 series at Cedar Rapids.
Friday's game: Peoria (11-7) vs. Quad Cities (9-10), 6:30 pm CT, Jimmy Reed (0-1, 4.50)
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