Nat­u­rals com­plete sweep of Cor­pus Christi

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BASEBALL - HENRY AP­PLE — PAUL BOYD

SPRING­DALE — If Don­nie De­wees Jr. had hit a shorter grounder Satur­day night, North­west Arkansas might have wasted a bases-loaded op­por­tu­nity Satur­day night.

In­stead, two run­ners crossed the plate as a re­sult of his fourth-in­ning drib­bler in front of the plate, and the Nat­u­rals went on to com­plete a three-game sweep of Cor­pus Christi with a 6-3 vic­tory at Ar­vest Ball­park.

“Some­times that hap­pens,” North­west Arkansas man­ager Vance Wil­son said. “You smoke balls right at guys, then you do some­thing like that. So again, that’s putting the ball in play and mak­ing some­thing hap­pen.

The Nat­u­rals (45-34 over­all, 6-3 sec­ond half) used Zach Wal­ters’ sin­gle, An­der­son Miller’s walk and a Cor­pus Christi er­ror on Hum­berto Arteaga’s grounder to third to load the bases with one out in the fourth. De­wees fol­lowed with his drib­bler in front of the plate, which al­lowed Wal­ters to score as the ball went far enough where Hooks catcher Jamie Ritchie couldn’t field it and go back to home in time for the force out.

Ritchie then made an er­rant throw to first, al­low­ing Miller to score. Nick Dini made it a 3-0 lead mo­ments later when his sin­gle drove in Arteaga.

“I was watch­ing be­cause it was al­most go­ing to be in­ter­fer­ence on their pitcher,” Wil­son said. “He was com­ing to home plate and al­most hit our run­ner, so I was watch­ing that. Ob­vi­ously the ball sailed.”

Nat­u­rals starter Foster Grif­fin (6-1) made that lead stand with his third straight qual­ity start. The left-han­der, who will be the Kansas City Roy­als’ lone rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the Sir­ius/XM Fu­tures Game, threw six-plus in­nings and al­lowed two runs on five hits while strik­ing out a sea­son-high 10 in a 101-pitch per­for­mance.

Cor­pus Christi (38-41, 4-5) made the game in­ter­est­ing when it cut North­west Arkansas’ lead to 4-3 in the sev­enth. The Hooks then had the ty­ing run at third in both the sev­enth and eighth in­nings and had the ty­ing run at the plate in the ninth.

“Again, our bullpen wasn’t great,” Wil­son said. “(Sam) Sel­man and (Jake) New­berry are ob­vi­ously bet­ter than that. It’s been a while since they had pitched with the crazy All-Star break. Foster Grif­fin gave us a great start.”

SHORT HOPS

■ The sweep was North­west Arkansas’ first over Cor­pus Christi since the 2011 sea­son, and it marked the fifth se­ries sweep over the Hooks in the Nat­u­rals’ 10-year ex­is­tence. It also ties the all-time se­ries record be­tween the two teams at 58-58.

■ Miller, who had one hit in his first two games with the Nat­u­rals, had two hits Satur­day, in­clud­ing an RBI sin­gle in the fifth to give North­west Arkansas a 4-0 cush­ion.

■ Lead­off hit­ter Nicky Lopez recorded his first RBI as a Nat­u­ral when his two-out sin­gle drove in Arteaga, who had ear­lier reached on a fielder’s choice. Lo­gan Moon added an­other RBI sin­gle in the eighth for the Nat­u­rals’ run.

On Deck: North­west Arkansas con­tin­ues its six-game home­s­tand against South Di­vi­sion teams to­day as the Nat­u­rals wel­come San An­to­nio for a three-game se­ries. Left­hander Jake Kal­ish (0-1, 3.54 ERA) will start on the mound for the Nat­u­rals for the 4:05 p.m. game, while the Mis­sions will start right-han­der Eric Lauer, who is mak­ing his Dou­ble-A de­but.

To­day’s Pro­mo­tion: The first 1,500 fans to to­day’s game will re­ceive a com­mem­o­ra­tive “Sea­son 10” t-shirt cour­tesy of Unify Fi­nan­cial Credit Union. It’s also Fam­ily Sun­day as kids 12 and un­der will re­ceive a voucher for a hot dog, chips and 12-ounce drink, and kids can run the bases af­ter the game is over.

On The Air: KQSM-FM 92.1

On The Web: www.nwa nat­u­rals.com

FRI­DAY’S LATE GAME NAT­U­RALS 8, HOOKS 7

SPRING­DALE — North­west Arkansas took an early lead against Ma­jor League re­hab­ber Collin McHugh, but the Nat­u­rals needed a re­ally late rally to claim an 8-7 win over Cor­pus Christi in a game that in­cluded a near two-hour rain de­lay and ended af­ter mid­night Satur­day morn­ing.

Nick Dini’s sac­ri­fice fly in the bot­tom of the ninth scored Don­nie De­wees Jr. snapped a 7-7 tie in the bot­tom of the ninth in­ning. The Nat­u­rals (5-3, 44-34) trailed 7-4 af­ter five in­nings, but tied it on De­wees’ two-run dou­ble in the sixth. They put run­ners on first and third with no­body out in the eighth, but failed to score.

How­ever, De­wees led off the bot­tom of the ninth with a triple — his fourth hit of the night. Hum­berto Arteaga tried a safety squeeze, but bunted it back to the pitcher and De­wees stayed. Cor­pus Christi re­liever Ryan Thompson (0-2) Arteaga out at first. Dini fol­lowed with a line drive to cen­ter field. De­wees tagged up and slid in just ahead of a strong re­lay throw.

North­west Arkansas man­ager Vance Wil­son was proud of his team’s re­siliency, af­ter see­ing an early 4-2 lead turn into a 7-4 deficit. The ef­fort of re­liever Yu­nior Marte wasn’t lost ei­ther, de­spite strug­gling when the Hooks scored four runs in the fifth. The righthander mak­ing his Dou­ble-A de­but bounced back with two score­less in­nings.

Richard Love­lady (1-0), also mak­ing his Dou­ble-A de­but, fol­lowed Marte with two score­less in­nings of re­lief.

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