Dewees’ blast gives Naturals a 2-1 victory
NATURALS 2, DRILLERS 1
SPRINGDALE — Donnie Dewees Jr. had seen enough of Eddie Gamboa’s knuckleball antics Friday night.
Dewees ended the Tulsa pitcher’s no-hit bid in the fifth inning when he belted a home run, and his teammates followed suit with another run on three more hits as the Naturals ended a six-game losing skid with a
2-1 victory over the Drillers at Arvest Ballpark.
“I can’t even think of us seeing one since I’ve been in the league,” Northwest Arkansas manager Vance Wilson said. “It’s tough because you don’t want your guys to get outside themselves. In the same sense, it’s a good experience for them.
“The guy was tough early. I thought he actually did a great job of mixing up his speeds, but Donnie got us on the board.”
Tulsa (49-49 overall, 16-12 second half) led 1-0 after Jose Fernandez hit a solo home run off Corey Ray in the fourth inning. Gamboa kept Northwest Arkansas’ bats silent with a knuckleball that ranged 58-72 mph, which made a mid-80s fastball seem even faster. Dewees, however, didn’t see a good pitch in the second inning and ended up with a walk.
Dewees saw three straight knucklers to begin his next at-bat, then Gamboa tried to sneak a fastball by him. Instead, Dewees connected on the 2-1 pitch and belted it over the right-field fence to tie the game.
“I probably saw that knuckleball about seven times and two fastballs,” Dewees said. “But I happened to guess right on that one. I was thinking fastball, and I put a good swing on it.
“I knew I would see a lot of knuckleballs the first time, so I was sitting on it there. I had seen three straight knuckleballs on that at-bat, and I knew he likes to sneak a fastball in at times. I figured ‘Heck, why not sit on it just once?’”
Alfredo Escalera kept the inning alive with a two-out walk against Gamboa (1-1), then he raced to third as Carlos Diaz excuted the hit-andrun and crossed up Tulsa second baseman Tim Locastro. Nicky Lopez answered with a solid single to left to score Escalera and give the Naturals (51-47, 12-16) a 2-1 lead.
That was all Northwest Arkansas needed. Ray (6-7) allowed just six hits and left after Errol Robinson’s single to start the seventh, then Richard Lovelady avoided an
eighth-inning jam before Jake Newberry pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.
“Corey did great,” Wilson said. “He wasn’t sharp location-wise, but obviously he had good stuff on the ball.
■ Kansas City Royals outfielder Paulo Orlando, who played at Northwest Arkansas from 2010-12, joined the team Friday as part of a rehab assignment and served as a
designated hitter. He finished 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, including one in the fifth, but Diaz was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
■ Northwest Arkansas centerfielder Anderson Miller denied Tulsa of another run when he drove and snagged Locastro’s sinking line drive to end the fifth.
■ Tulsa catcher Brant Whiting returned to the team for a second time Thursday, but was actually seeing his first game action with the Drillers. He led off with eighth with a double against Lovelady, who managed to keep Whiting stranded at third when the inning ended.
On Deck: The two teams continue their four-game series with a 6:05 p.m. game today at Arvest Ballpark, and Northwest Arkansas will send left-hander Foster Griffin (7-2, 3.14 ERA) to the mound. Tulsa’s listed starting pitcher is right-hander Tim Shibuya (3-1, 1.74), but the Drillers put him on the 7-day disabled list Thursday.
Today’s Promotion: It’s Big Country Bash night, and fans will enjoy a free postgame concert by country music star Jerrod Niemann following the game. There is also a Saturday Happy Hour, where fans can enjoy halfprice deals on more than 70 different beverages. Gates will open at 4:35 p.m.
On The Air: KQSM-FM 92.1
On The Web: www.nwa naturals.com
CARDINALS 8, TRAVELERS 3
Darren Seferina hit a run-scoring single in the first inning, leading the Springfield Cardinals to an 8-3 win over the Arkansas Travelers on Friday.
The single by Seferina started the scoring in a five-run inning and gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning, Springfield scored on three more plays, including a two-run double by Jacob Wilson.
After Arkansas scored two runs in the third, the Travelers cut into the deficit in the fourth inning when Ryan Casteel hit a solo home run.
The Cardinals later added two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. In the fifth, Wilson hit an RBI double and then scored on a single by Magneuris Sierra, while Seferina scored on an error in the sixth.
Springfield right-hander Zac Gallen (3-2) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing three runs on eight hits over six innings. Opposing starter Brett Ash (5-10) took the loss in the Texas League game after a rough outing in which he allowed seven runs and nine hits over 41/3 innings.