Drillers edge Nat­u­rals, force split in se­ries

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BASEBALL - HENRY AP­PLE AND MIKE CAPSHAW


SPRING­DALE — North­west Arkansas had the Texas League’s best record in onerun games en­ter­ing Satur­day’s se­ries fi­nale with Tulsa.

The Drillers, how­ever, turned the ta­bles in or­der to man­age a split in the fourgame se­ries. Erick Me­jia’s eighth- in­ning sin­gle past a drawn-in in­field al­lowed Er­rol Robinson to score and give Tulsa a 7-6 vic­tory over the Nat­u­rals at Ar­vest Ball­park.

Robinson belted a one-out sin­gle in the eighth against re­liever Jake Kal­ish ( 0- 4), then stole sec­ond. An er­rant throw al­lowed him to take third be­fore Me­jia’s sin­gle went up the mid­dle and into cen­ter field.

“We didn’t ex­e­cute a cou­ple of pitches late with our bullpen and the way they’ve been throw­ing,” said North­west Arkansas man­ager Vance Wil­son, whose team’s record in one- run games dropped to 21-12.

The Nat­u­rals (50-42 over­all, 11-11 sec­ond half) took a 6-3 lead into the sev­enth, but Tulsa started the in­ning with a walk to Henry Ramos and a sin­gle by Matt Beaty. Kal­ish, who had re­lieved starter Glenn Spark­man in the fourth, picked up a pair of strike­outs, but Blake Gailen belted a three-run shot over the right-field fence to tie the game.

“Kal­ish had been good and had a three- run lead,” Wil­son said. “He just left the ball up a lit­tle to Gailen, and Gailen put a good swing on the three-run home run. Un­for­tu­nately, that’s the way the game goes.

“He just got into a lit­tle bit of trou­ble. I thought we should have made a play up the mid­dle, but we didn’t. He comes back and strikes the next two guys out — one be­ing (Jose) Fer­nan­dez, who is hard to strike out. Some­times you let up a lit­tle bit, and the next thing you know a fast­ball is up the mid­dle and the guy hits it out.”

North­west Arkansas bounced back from an early 3-0 deficit with four runs

in the fourth against Tulsa starter Walker Buehler, who struck out seven through the first three in­nings. Af­ter Buehler walked the bases loaded, Al­fredo Es­calera hit a sac­ri­fice fly, fol­lowed by an RBI sin­gle by Nick Dini and a two-run dou­ble by Cody Jones.

The Nat­u­rals stretched their lead to 6-3 with a pair of un­earned runs in the sixth. Dini picked up his sec­ond RBI sin­gle af­ter Hum­berto Arteaga reached on an er­ror, then a sec­ond mis­cue on a Nicky Lopez grounder al­lowed Don­nie De­wees Jr. to score.

North­west Arkansas then had a chance to tie the game in the ninth as Samir Duenez dou­bled into the left-field cor­ner with two out. An­der­son Miller, how­ever, grounded out to short to end the game.


■ Satur­day’s game was played with only two work­ing um­pires af­ter Tyler Ol­son was in­jured by a foul ball dur­ing the fourth in­ning of Fri­day’s game. A re­place­ment um­pire will join the duo of crew chief Sean Allen, who worked be­hind the plate, and Malachi Moore for their next se­ries.

■ Dini was 3- for- 3 and reached base for times for the Nat­u­rals. He had a lead­off dou­ble in the third, then drew a walk in the eighth.

■ Beaty avoided in­jury went he went over the rail­ing and into the stands in shal­low left field as he chased a foul ball dur­ing the fourth in­ning. The Drillers’ train­ers raced to­ward Beaty, but he came back on the field min­utes later and con­tin­ued to play.

On Deck: North­west Arkansas be­gin a four- game se­ries at Springfield to­day, with first pitch slated for 6:10 p.m. Right-han­der Corey Ray (5-6, 4.19 ERA) will start on the mound for the Nat­u­rals, while the Car­di­nals will counter with right- han­der Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.04). North­west Arkansas re­turns home Thurs­day to start an­other four-game se­ries with Tulsa.

On The Air: KQSM-FM 92.1

On The Web: www.nwa nat­u­rals.com


SPRING­DALE — Samir Duenez launched a sac­ri­fice fly deep to right field to drive in the win­ning run in North­west Arkansas’ 2-1 vic­tory over Tulsa in 12 in­nings at Ar­vest Ball­park on Fri­day.

The in­ning be­gan when Al­lan de San Miguel sin­gled to left but then was thrown out on fielder’s choice that al­lowed Cody Jones to reach first. Jones ad­vanced to third on on a sin­gle by Nicky Lopez. An in­ten­tional walk then loaded the bases with one out for Duenez, who drove in Jones to be­gin a cel­e­bra­tion with team­mates leap­ing around first base and even in­cluded icy wa­ter from a bucket be­ing flung in Duenez’s di­rec­tion.

Be­fore Duenez stepped into the bat­ter’s box, the Drillers brought an out­fielder into play in­field, putting three de­fend­ers on the grass on the right side where the left-handed, pull-hit­ting Duenez typ­i­cally would hit. It didn’t mat­ter be­cause Duenez hit a moon­shot well over the de­fen­sive ad­just­ment to end the game that lasted more than four hours.

North­west Arkansas (50-41, 11-10 dur­ing sec­ond half of sea­son) struck first when Lopez led off the game with a triple to right-cen­ter field be­fore scor­ing on a grounder to first by Duenez. The score stood through the next seven in­nings be­fore Tulsa (46-45, 13-8) evened it up at 1-1 on Darien Tubbs’ RBI dou­ble to right field to drive in Matt Beaty in the eighth.

In ex­tra in­nings, the Nat­u­rals squan­dered their first scor­ing op­por­tu­nity.

Duenez, who was 0- for- 4 head­ing into his 11th in­ning at-bat, led off with a line-drive sin­gle to left. With two outs, Duenez stole sec­ond base, putting the win­ning run in scor­ing po­si­tion. Don­nie De­wees Jr., who was 2-for-4, was then in­ten­tion­ally walked to bring pinch hit­ter Nick Dini to the plate.

When Dini lined a sin­gle to left, it gave the Nat­u­rals’ a chance to end the game. Man­ager Vance Wil­son sent Duenez home, but Tubbs one-hopped a laser throw to catcher Gar­rett Kennedy to nail Duenez and send it into the 12th.

Af­ter the Drillers got the lead­off man aboard when Jose Fer­nan­dez reached on a bloop sin­gle in the top of the ninth, Tim Hill struck out Peter O’Brien swing­ing be­fore es­cap­ing by get­ting Quincy Lat­ti­more to ground into an in­ning-end­ing dou­ble play.

Hill then gave up a two-out walk to Tubbs in then 10th, and it was fol­lowed by a sin­gle to left by Gar­rett Kennedy, but Hill in­duced a ground­out to keep the score tied and the Nat­u­rals chances alive.

Nat­u­rals starter Emilio Oganda was solid while pitch­ing five shutout in­nings. He scat­tered seven hits, in­clud­ing three in­field sin­gles, walked one and struck out six.

Tulsa’s Er­rol Robinson swiped sec­ond base twice dur­ing the game but was not suc­cess­ful on his third stolen base at­tempt in the 11th in­ning. Hill, a left-handed pitcher, caught Robinson leav­ing on first move­ment on a pick­off to first base. Robinson sprinted to­ward sec­ond but was tagged out.

Fri­day’s game was de­layed by about 10 min­utes with home plate um­pire Tyler Ol­son was in­jured by a foul ball in the fourth in­ning. Play re­sumed with just two um­pires when Ol­son was re­placed be­hind the plate by Malachi Moore, who be­gan the game at third base.

An­other short de­lay oc­curred be­fore the start of the third in­ning when a young fan dan­gled her feet through the rails and off the left-field wall be­fore Nat­u­rals left-fielder Cody Jones jogged out to let her know that was not al­lowed.

Henry Ap­ple can be reached at hap­ple@nwadg.com or on Twit­ter @NWAHenry.

Mike Capshaw can be reached at mcap­shaw@nwadg.com or on Twit­ter @NWACappy.

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