Nat­u­rals score four in ninth, top Drillers

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - LELAND BAR­CLAY

NAT­U­RALS 8, DRILLERS 7

SPRING­DALE — The North­west Arkansas Nat­u­rals broke out of a week­long of­fen­sive slump in a big way on Sun­day and at just the right time.

The Nat­u­rals scored four runs in the bot­tom of the ninth in­ning to rally to an 8-7 win against Tulsa and earn a split of the fourgame series be­fore 2,890 at Ar­vest Ball­park.

North­west Arkansas (1317, 52-48) had scored just 12 runs in its pre­vi­ous seven games, and had hit just .199 over its last 11 games be­fore Sun­day.

Sun­day, though, the Nat­u­rals banged out 12 hits, in­clud­ing eight by the top four spots in the bat­ting order.

Still, they needed four runs in the bot­tom of the ninth to over­come a three­run deficit.

“It’s a crazy game,” Nat­u­rals Man­ager Vance Wil­son said. “We failed in some fun­da­men­tal things early that I wasn’t happy about. Some­times, de­fen­sively you get caught up in the grind of how hard this is, we’re bat­tling and we’re tired, but fun­da­men­tals can’t take a break. We screwed some things up early. Ob­vi­ously, the guys bat­tled back.”

Af­ter two quick outs in

the ninth, Don­nie De­wees was plunked by Corey Cop­ping. Hum­berto Arteaga and Al­lan de San Miguel coaxed walks to load the bases be­fore pinch-hit­ter Nick Dini slapped a sin­gle to right to score De­wees and Arteaga.

“They’ve got a good pitch­ing staff,” Wil­son said. “They run guys out there that throw hard. Es­pe­cially to do that off Cop­ping, you don’t do that very of­ten. He’s a good pitcher. I’m proud of the guys.”

Nicky Lopez sin­gled to short left to score pinch-run­ner Cody Jones and tie the game at 8-all. Pinch-hit­ter An­der­son Miller bounced the first pitch from re­liever and left­fielder Blake Gailen off the wall the deep cor­ner of left field to eas­ily score Dini from sec­ond for the game-win­ning run.

“We got caught short at the end with our pitch­ing,” Tulsa Man­ager Ryan Garko said. “Corey’s prob­a­bly one of our best guys here. He’s a prospect that we’re ex­cited to pitch in the Ma­jor Leagues one day, but it just wasn’t his day. You walk peo­ple and the un­com­pet­i­tive pitches. You just give a chance for some­thing like that to hap­pen.”

Tulsa (17-13, 50-50) had scored two runs in the top half of the ninth on Matt Beaty’s dou­ble to deep left for a 7-4 lead.

Tulsa led 5-3 af­ter scor­ing three runs in the top of the fifth in­ning but Nat­u­rals re­liever Tim Hill tossed four in­nings of score­less ball, re­tir­ing 12 of 13 bat­ters he faced.

“You don’t want to get caught up in us­ing a lot of pitch­ers in this long stretch,” Wil­son said. “For him to come in and do what he did with the amount of pitches he did and how he did it. He’s worked his tail off. He’s had some ad­ver­sity. He had to go back to A-ball. To bounce back and go there and bide his time, and come back. I’m happy for him.”

Sun­day’s game was the fi­nal one for Garko as the man­ager of the Drillers.

“It’s been great to be part of the Drillers and the Tulsa com­mu­nity, and the Dodger fam­ily,” Garko said. “I look for­ward to the next op­por­tu­nity at the Univer­sity and for my fam­ily. To­day’s about these guys and say­ing good­bye. Whether we won or lost, I knew this was go­ing to be last chance to be with them in this dugout. I got to coach

some great hu­man be­ings the last cou­ple of years with the Dodgers. It’s hard to say good­bye. I know it’s a part of sports, but I am ex­cited about what’s about to come. This next op­por­tu­nity came be­cause of the op­por­tu­nity the Dodgers gave me.”

Garko, who was an All-Amer­i­can catcher at Stan­ford, was named the head coach at the Univer­sity of the Pa­cific in Stock­ton, Calif. He’s look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing

to the col­lege at­mos­phere.

“The ed­u­ca­tional part and re­ally work­ing on de­vel­op­ing them into men as they grad­u­ate, and im­pact­ing their lives what­ever they do,” Garko said. “We’re go­ing to play a lot of base­ball and get them bet­ter, and we’re go­ing to try to win some games, but the men­tor­ship part and the re­la­tion­ships you have with those guys. I get to re­cruit them and bring them in, and make the de­ci­sions. I have a vi­sion and a cul­ture I want to create.”

One thing Garko won’t

miss is the long bus rides around the Texas League.

“I have two ba­bies at home that I’m go­ing to get to have din­ner with ev­ery night,” Garko said. “That’s prob­a­bly worth more than any­thing.”

SHORT HOPS

■ All four games of the four-game series be­tween Tulsa and the Nat­u­rals were de­cided by one run; three straight 2-1 games and then Sun­day’s 8-7 thriller.

■ The two teams com­bined to use nine pitch­ers on Sun­day to throw a com­bined 334 pitches in the three hour, 22 minute game.

■ Sun­day was Ryan Garko’s fi­nal game as Man­ager of the Tulsa Drillers be­fore tak­ing over as the head coach at the Univer­sity of the Pa­cific in Stock­ton, Calif.

On Deck: The Nat­u­rals be­gin a three-game series in North Lit­tle Rock against the Trav­el­ers be­fore re­turn­ing home for a four-game set against streak­ing Spring­field. The Nat­u­rals will go with Emilio Ogando (6-6, 3.51) in the series opener on Mon­day against Arkansas. Ogando is 2-1 against the Trav­el­ers this sea­son, win­ning his first two starts with just one earned run in 12 com­bined in­nings. The Trav­el­ers handed Ogando a loss his last time out against them, though, with seven runs in just four in­nings of work six weeks ago. Arkansas had not an­nounced a starter on Sun­day.

On The Air: KQSM-FM 92.1

On The Web: www.nwa nat­u­rals.com

CAR­DI­NALS 3, TRAV­EL­ERS 1

Sandy Al­can­tara tossed seven score­less in­nings, lead­ing the Spring­field Car­di­nals over the Arkansas Trav­el­ers in a 3-1 win on Sun­day. Rowan Wick got Dario Piz­zano to fly out with a run­ner on sec­ond to end the game for his third save of the sea­son.

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