Nat­u­rals of­fense erupts in win over Trav­el­ers

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - PAUL BOYD Paul Boyd can be reached at or on Twit­ter @NWAPaulb.

SPRING­DALE —North­west Arkansas got a boost from an old friend to hold on for a 9-8 win over Arkansas on Tues­day night.

Re­liever Mark Peter­son, who was re­signed and ac­ti­vated be­fore the game, got the last three outs in the top of the ninth in front of 3,056 at Ar­vest Ball­park.

The right-han­der saved 16 games com­bined in each of the last three sea­sons for North­west Arkansas but was traded to the Philadel­phia Phillies in late June. He pitched in eight games for Triple-A Le­high Val­ley but was sub­se­quently re­leased a cou­ple of weeks ago.

North­west Arkansas man­ager Vance Wil­son said Peter­son was big for the Nat­u­rals, who have played for the past week with only 22 or 23 play­ers. The ros­ter max­i­mum is 25. Right-han­der An­dres Machado was also sent down from Triple-A Omaha to the Nat­u­rals, but he can’t pitch un­til to­day, Wil­son said.

“He kinda saved us,” Wil­son said. “He’s been throw­ing and gave us a call and still wanted to pitch. Ob­vi­ously we know him and have a history with him. As down as we are in arms, it’s nice to have him back.”

But the Nat­u­rals (15-24, 54-55) also en­joyed an of­fen­sive ex­plo­sion with an eightrun sixth in­ning to turn a 4-1 deficit into a 9-4 ad­van­tage. North­west Arkansas sent 11 bat­ters to the plate and com­bined eight hits (seven sin­gles) with a pair of costly Trav­el­ers er­rors.

That was also a wel­come sight for Wil­son, whose team had lost 14 of 17 and av­er­aged less than three runs a game dur­ing that pe­riod.

“They made a cou­ple mis­takes, but you’ve got to give credit to the guys after that,” Wil­son said. “They had a great ap­proach, stayed on the ball. The best thing, I thought, was the two-strike ap­proach that in­ning. We got down in some counts.”

Nat­u­rals catcher Nick Dini con­tin­ued his red-hot hit­ting, go­ing 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Three other Nat­u­rals added two hits each.

Arkansas (17-22, 49-60) fought back though to get within 9-8 thanks to a four­run top of the eighth. That rally was also aided by a two-out er­ror by North­west Arkansas.

Arkansas man­ager Daren Brown said the er­rors opened the door for North­west Arkansas’ big in­ning.

“You don’t catch the ball, you don’t win,” Brown said. “It kind of snow­balled on us. They gave us a cou­ple back. They made one less er­ror than us, and they won.”


■ Nat­u­rals starter Foster Grif­fin (8-3) picked up the win, al­low­ing four runs over 62/3 in­nings. He bounced back from a three-run fifth in­ning to pitch into the sev­enth.

■ Trav­el­ers right fielder Kyle Wal­drop stayed hot, driv­ing in two runs. He now has 13 RBIs in his last 11 games.

■ Arkansas starter Nick Niedert (0-3), the No. 4 rated prospect in the Seat­tle Mariners or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­cord­ing to Base­ball America, took the loss thanks to the Trav­el­ers mis­cues. He al­lowed five runs (one earned) over 51/3 in­nings.

On Deck: Josh Stau­mont (0-2 7.02) will start on the mound for the Nat­u­rals. He will be op­posed by Dy­lan Unsworth (9-8 3.37) for the Trav­el­ers in the fi­nal game of the home stand.

To­day’s pro­mo­tion: Fans can win prizes dur­ing the game by fol­low­ing along on the videoboard and also on so­cial me­dia as part of What’s It? Wed­nes­day. … Groups of 20 or more can pur­chase first-base and third-base re­served tick­ets for $5 each if bought in ad­vance.

On The Air: 92.1 FM, The Ticket

On The Web: www.nwa nat­u­

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE

North­west Arkansas Nat­u­rals short­stop Nicky Lopez heads to first Tues­day after con­nect­ing with the ball against the Arkansas Trav­el­ers dur­ing the third in­ning at Ar­vest Ball­park in Spring­dale. Visit­tos to see more photographs from the game.

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