The Arkansas Travelers dominated the Springfield Cardinals 14-1 on Friday night at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock to advance to the Texas League Championship Series for the first time since 2013.
Robert Perez Jr. led the way for Arkansas, going 3 for 5 with two home runs and six RBI. Jake Anchia added four RBI and scored twice in a 4-for-4 effort at the plate.
After both teams went scoreless across the first three innings, the Travelers built a 12-run lead across the next four. They scored three runs in the fourth, three in the fifth, four in the sixth and three in the seventh, while Springfield mustered a single run in the top of the sixth.
Perez opened the scoring with a solo home run. Anchia added an RBI double that scored Kaden Polcovich and Leo Rivas singled to bring Anchia across the plate.
Tyler Locklear and Alberto Rodriguez scored in the fifth for the Travelers off a two-RBI single from Josh Morgan, and Anchia added his second RBI when Polcovich scored for a second time on his sacrifice fly.
Mike Antico cut Arkansas' lead to 6-1 in the top of the sixth with a solo home run, but Perez and Anchia both added two RBI singles in the bottom half of the sixth to take a nine-run lead over Springfield.
Perez hit his second home run of the night in the seventh inning, a three-run shot that scored Rivas and Jonatan Clase.
The Travelers got an insurance run in the eighth as Clase hit an RBI double that scored Anchia, and Collin Kober pitched a perfect top of the ninth inning to close out the Cardinals.
Rob Kaminsky picked up the win for Arkansas after pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief while allowing 2 hits and striking out 1. Six Arkansas pitchers took the mound and Travis Kuhn was the only one to allow a run. Springfield starter Tink Hence of Pine Bluff took the loss after giving up 3 earned runs on 5 hits and 4 walks across 3 2/3 innings.
The Travelers will face the Amarillo Sod Poodles in the best-of-three Texas League Championship starting at 1:35 p.m. Sunday at Dickey-Stephens Park. The Sod Poodles beat the San Antonio Missions 6-3 in Game 3 of the Texas League South Divisional Series to advance to the championship series.
Amarillo won the South's second-half title by five games with a 42-26 record, while first-half North title winner Arkansas slumped in the second half and finished 27-41.