Nat­u­rals avoid sweep

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - MIKE CAPSHAW


SPRING­DALE — Al­fredo Es­calera picked a per­fect time for his first ex­tra-base hit in three weeks, as it was the dif­fer­ence in North­west Arkansas’ 6-3 win against San An­to­nio on Tues­day.

With the bases loaded in the sec­ond in­ning, Es­calera hit a hard grounder just in­side the chalk line and out of reach of div­ing third base­man Ty France. Three runs scored on the dou­ble, as Al­berth Martinez strug­gled to cor­ral the ball in the left-field cor­ner of Ar­vest Ball­park.

Nat­u­rals man­ager Vance Wil­son, coach­ing third base, hes­i­tated for a split sec­ond be­fore wav­ing home the third run.

“The read on that is where your guy is, how the left fielder throws and where he’s at,” Wil­son said. “It wasn’t that he didn’t come up with it clean, it just took him to where his back was to the field and as soon as you see him have to turn his back, his throw is not go­ing to have much on it.”

North­west Arkansas avoided a sweep in front of a crowd of 7,554 af­ter San An­to­nio won the first two games of the three-game se­ries 1-0 and 5-3. It was the third win against the Texas League South Divi­sion-lead­ing Mis­sions in nine games this sea­son.

“They’re a good team,” Wil­son said. “We played it tight the first two games. There is a lot of emo­tion when we have a big crowd and for us to keep our cool and com­po­sure and be able to keep the lead, I’m proud of them.”

Es­calera’s bases-clear­ing dou­ble spot­ted the Nat­u­rals a 3-0 lead and pro­vided cush­ion for start­ing pitcher Emilio Ogando,

who worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third in­ning. It be­gan with a dou­ble by Stephen McGee and a sin­gle by Peter Van Gansen. Fol­low­ing a pop out and strike­out, a two-out walk loaded the bases for Fran­mil Reyes, the Mis­sions’ clean-up bat­ter. But Ogando got Reyes to ground out to es­cape un­scathed.

Af­ter an RBI sin­gle by Hum­berto Arteaga pushed North­west Arkansas’ lead to 4-0 in the third, the Mis­sions made it in­ter­est­ing with Nick Schulz’ two-run dou­ble off the cen­ter­field wall in the fifth in­ning.

But late solo homers late by Zach Wal­ters and An­der­son Miller ex­tended the mar­gin. Wal­ters, who had three hits, crushed a shot that curled around the right field foul pole in the sev­enth and Miller fol­lowed with a moon shot over the left-field wall in the eighth.


■ Mis­sions man­ager Phillip Well­man was ejected by first base um­pire Jeff Gor­man af­ter ve­he­mently ar­gu­ing when Fran­mil Reyes grounded into a dou­ble play the top of the eighth in­ning. Reyes later was ejected as well. In the sev­enth, Mis­sions hit­ting coach Lance Burkhart was ejected while ar­gu­ing that Wal­ters homer should have been ruled foul.

■ Ogando was aided by a pair of dou­ble plays, in­clud­ing one he be­gan af­ter giv­ing up a lead­off sin­gle the McGee in the fifth. In the sec­ond, third base­man Jack Lopez snagged a hot shot, stepped on third and fired to first base for an in­ning-end­ing dou­ble play. ■ Three of the Nat­u­rals first five hits were bloop sin­gles, with all three fit­ting the def­i­ni­tion of “Texas Lea­guer.” That’s when a ball lands safely on the out­field grass be­tween the out­field­ers rush­ing in and the in­field­ers rush­ing out.

On Deck: Af­ter wrap­ping up a six-game home­s­tand on Tues­day, the Nat­u­rals make the long trek to Cor­pus Christi for a three-game se­ries. It be­gins at 7:05 p.m. to­day with the Nat­u­rals send­ing right-handed pitcher Corey Ray (5-4, 4.19) up against Hooks right-han­der Collin McHugh (0-0, 36.00).

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Gar­rett Stubbs home­red and had three hits, and Fram­ber Valdez struck out nine hit­ters over six in­nings as the Cor­pus Christi Hooks topped the Arkansas Trav­el­ers 4-1 on Tues­day.

Valdez (1-1) picked up the win af­ter he walked three while al­low­ing one run and two hits.

Up 2-0 in the sixth, Cor­pus Christi ex­tended its lead when Stubbs hit a solo home run.

The Trav­el­ers cut into the deficit in the sev­enth in­ning when Dario Piz­zano scored on a ground out.

The Hooks tacked on an­other run in the ninth when Ar­turo Miche­lena scored on a wild pitch.

Justin DeFra­tus (2-5) went six in­nings, al­low­ing three runs and nine hits in the Texas League game. He also struck out two and walked one. An­drew Thome pitched 12/3 score­less in­nings for his sixth save of the sea­son.

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