Dini, Nat­u­rals hold Car­di­nals off for win NAT­U­RALS 3, CAR­DI­NALS 2 TEXAS LEAGUE

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BASEBALL - HENRY AP­PLE Henry Ap­ple can be reached at hap­ple@nwadg.com or on Twit­ter @NWAHenry.

SPRING­DALE — Nick Dini took his share of hits Sat­ur­day night, but the last one was well worth it.

North­west Arkansas’ catcher took the throw from right fielder An­der­son Miller, then de­nied Randy Arozarena the op­por­tu­nity to score the ty­ing run as the Nat­u­rals held off Spring­field for a 3-2 vic­tory be­fore 5,991 at Ar­vest Ball­park.

“[Ja­cob] Wil­son made an awe­some throw, and I was able to put the tag on the guy,” Dini said. “We were for­tu­nate enough that he made a good throw and I was able to get him at home. He was too far away to make a slide, and I had caught the ball and moved into the base­line. It was go­ing to be tough for him.”

North­west Arkansas (5353 over­all, 14-22 sec­ond half) took a 3-1 lead into the ninth in­ning, but Spring­field (5848, 23-13) put the ty­ing runs on when John No­gowski sin­gled and Arozarena reached on a two-base er­ror. One out later, Ja­cob Wil­son belted a sin­gle to drive in No­gowski, but Arozarena came around third and headed home.

Wil­son, how­ever, fired to the plate, and Dini took the throw with time to spare for the sec­ond out. Tim Hill then struck out An­drew Knizner to pre­serve the win, which was only the Nat­u­rals’ third win in their last 15 games.

“We’ve been strug­gling in the win cat­e­gory,” North­west Arkansas man­ager Vance Wil­son said. “More im­por­tantly, our pitching threw re­ally well. Even when they ral­lied, we were able to throw some big pitches.

“I think catch­ers shouldn’t show their weak­ness, but I was giv­ing Nick a lit­tle trou­ble. He hung in and did a great job. It’s part of be­ing a catcher. You have to be the tough­est guy on the field.”

Dini had al­ready been hit by a pitch and fell to the dirt in the first in­ning, then hit the dirt again when he was struck by a foul ball from Os­car Mer­cado in the top of the eighth. Dini then went to the plate in the bot­tom half of the in­ning and was hit by an­other pitch, but this one came af­ter the Nat­u­rals loaded the bases with walks and al­lowed Nicky Lopez score a cru­cial run.

“It was just one of those days,” Dini said. “That’s the ter­ri­tory that comes from be­ing a catcher. You know you’re go­ing to take your shots when you sign up to catch.

“Late in the game, with our team scuf­fling a lit­tle bit, it means fight­ing for wins. Any­thing you can do to get a run in and put a lit­tle cush­ion at the end, you do it. That run turned out to be big, so I’ll take it.”


■ North­west Arkansas starter Emilio Ogando (7-7) pitched six-plus in­nings and al­lowed just one run on five hits. The left-han­der re­tired 11 con­sec­u­tive Spring­field bat­ters at one point be­fore turn­ing it over to Hill, who went three in­nings for his third save be­cause he was the most rested pitcher and the Nat­u­rals are short two pitch­ers at the mo­ment. ■ Donnie De­wees Jr. and Mauri­cio Ramos ac­counted for the Nat­u­rals’ first two runs. De­wees walked in the first and scored on Ramos’ high bouncer to third, then De­wees sin­gled and scored on Ramos’ sin­gle in the third. ■ De­spite suf­fer­ing the loss, Spring­field starter Chris Ellis (2-6) made his long out­ing of the sea­son by throw­ing seven full in­nings. He pitched six in­nings on two oc­ca­sions ear­lier this month, in­clud­ing his pre­vi­ous start at Tulsa.

On Deck: The two teams will con­clude their four-game se­ries to­day, with first pitch set for 2:05 p.m. North­west Arkansas gives left-han­der Jake Kal­ish (0-5, 3.68 ERA) the start­ing nod on the mound, while Spring­field will counter with left-han­der Austin Gomber (4-7, 4.48)

To­day’s Pro­mo­tion: All kids ages 12 and younger will eat for free and re­ceive a voucher good for a hot dog, chips and drink once they en­ter the gate. It’s Fam­ily Sun­day, which fea­tures ac­tiv­i­ties for the fam­ily, and kids can run the bases af­ter the game is com­pleted.

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On The Web: www.nwa nat­u­rals.com.

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