Over-easy for Odorizzi in Naturals win

SPRINGDALE, ARJake Odorizzi set a new single-game franchise record punching out 11 batters as the Naturals snapped their four-game slide with a 5-0 win over the Springfield Cardinals Monday night in the opener of a four-game series at Arvest Ballpark.

Odorizzi (2-1), in by far his most dominating Double-A outing since his mid-summer promotion last season, fanned 11 in seven innings to set a new franchise record.  Four different Naturals’ hurlers – most recently left-hander Will Smith last August 30th – had fanned ten in an outing. The Royals’ top right-handed pitching prospect, Odorizzi scattered his 11 strikeouts over his seven frames – setting down at least one batter via the strikeout in each inning in a brisk game that ended in two hours and 19 minutes.

Northwest Arkansas (6-11) started the effort necessary to back Odorizzi with a pair of runs in the third. Johnny Whittleman’s two-run double in the bottom of the third scored Christian Colon and Wil Myers and put the Naturals up by a 2-0 margin.

They added three runs of insurance in the eighth. Sharlon Schoop, inserted in the eighth as a defensive replacement at first base, homered to left and then after back to back singles by Kurt Mertins and Paulo Orlando, who was also inserted for defensive purposes, Julio Rodriguez recorded the first two RBI’s of his Naturals’ career with a two-run double.

Patrick Keating, the Naturals’ franchise leader in saves, worked around an eighth inning walk to help Odorizzi and the Naturals complete the four-hitter.  For Keating, who had a rough outing in the road series opener Thursday at North Little Rock, it was his league-leading fourth save on the season.

Starter John Gast took the loss for Springfield (8-9).  Coming into the game with the league lead in wins, Gast (3-1) allowed a pair of runs and eight hits over six frames of work.

Christian Colon and Kurt Mertins had two hits each for the Naturals, who totaled 12 on the night.  Outfielder Lorenzo Cain, on a rehab assignment from the Kansas City Royals, served as the designated hitter and leadoff batter.  He hit the ball very hard, but ended the night 0-for-5 in the second game of his rehab.

Game two of the series with Springfield is Tuesday night. Left-hander Noel Arguelles (0-2, 6.08) will take the hill for Northwest Arkansas opposite right-hander Trevor Rosenthal (1-2, 4.30) for the Cardinals.  First pitch is 7:00 P.M. Listen live on News/Talk 1030 KFAY.  The game will also be available on Milb.TV (subscription required).

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