SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Randy Arozarena blasted a walk-off home run that got every Cardinals fan in Cardsville, the tall and the small, cheering on Christmas in July without any presents at all.
The Naturals puzzled and puzzled until their puzzlers were sore but couldn’t stop Christmas from coming. It came. Somehow or other, it came just the same in a 5-4 Cardinals victory with a third straight sellout crowd of 6,788 fans at Hammons Field.
Arozarena’s winning blast sent the sound of sleigh bells ringing around the ballpark and came with a side of a bat flip, a bowling helmet and a shower at the plate. But to get there, it took a game-tying homer two batters earlier from Tommy Edman.
Edman’s equally towering dinger landed on the grass in front of the video board in center field, pulling the Cardinals even at 4-4 just minutes after a 3-3 tie turned into a 4-3 Naturals lead in the top of the ninth.
The win pulled the Cardinals within 6.5 games of the first-place Drillers with a key three-game series against Tulsa starting Monday in Springfield.
SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS
The Cardinals finished Christmas in July weekend with back-to-back comeback wins after battling back from trailing 6-1 on Saturday night and 4-3 in the ninth tonight.
Samir Duenez got the Naturals going with a run-scoring single to right in the first.
Two innings later, Springfield snagged the lead. The Cardinals loaded the bases without an out and Arozarena answered with a bloop single that landed on the right-field line, scoring Evan Mendoza. Andrew Knizner followed with a sacrifice fly to center that brought Edman in, but the rally stalled on a 2-1 Cardinals lead.
That lead grew to 3-1 two innings later when John Nogowski singled home Andy Young, but the Naturals tied it 3-3 in the sixth off a two-run Kelvin Gutierrez single.
Northwest Arkansas went ahead 4-3 when Kort Peterson scored off a Xavier Fernandez sacrifice fly.
Cardinals starter Casey Meisner allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk over six innings in a good looking Springfield debut, striking out six.
Newly acquired reliever Seth Elledge made his Double-A debut tonight after coming over from the Mariners system in the Sam Tuivailala trade. Elledge struckout one, allowed a hit and an unearned run in the ninth.
The Cardinals open a three-game home series with the Drillers on Monday with first pitch set for 6:30pm.