Naturals offense erupts in win over Travelers
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 naturals.com
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. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the game.