Naturals rally to beat Midland again
SPRINGDALE — Northwest Arkansas continued its mastery of Midland at Arvest Ballpark, but needed some late heroics to do it Wednesday night.
Nick Dini capped a threerun eighth with a two-out, two-run double to lift the Naturals to a 6-4 win over the RockHounds in front of 3,064. It was Northwest Arkansas’ fifth straight win over Midland (20-26, 56-60) at home and its sixth in eight meetings this season.
Northwest Arkansas (18-28, 57-59) trailed 4-3 going into the bottom of the eighth. But the Naturals got started on back-to-back hit batsmen by Midland reliever Brandon Mann (3-5). The runners moved up to second and third thanks to a wild pitch by Mann.
The RockHounds, who led 4-0 early, then elected to intentionally walk Humberto Arteaga to load the bases with one out. Anderson Miller then beat out a possible inning-ending double play at first to allow the tying run to score.
Dini, who finished 3-for-4, lined a double into the rightfield corner to score two and give the Naturals their first lead of the night.
Northwest Arkansas manager Vance Wilson said his catcher, who is hitting .358 over 49 games, has not been a surprise to him.
“He’s a good player, man,” Wilson said. “When you look at these young men when their mechanics match up and they get an opportunity to play, it usually works. Look at the kid’s swing, how he prepares and how he sets up and his hand path. All those small things we don’t like to talk about, it works. Guys like that to me, the hit better the higher up they get because the ball’s around the plate. He’s a competitor.”
Jack Lopez got Northwest Arkansas going with a threerun home run in the fifth to get the Naturals within 4-3.
Midland manager Fran Riordan said his team again failed to hold a lead late, which has been the story against Northwest Arkansas this season.
“We haven’t won a game here all season and four out of the five games we’ve had pretty significant leads we weren’t able to hold on to,” Riordan said. “We have to do a better job. You’ve got to give them credit in the other dugout. They don’t stop on offense. They seem to have their best at-bats when it matters most and they proved that again tonight.”
■ Midland first baseman Viosergy Rosa, who leads the Texas League with 94 RBIs, drove in three of the RockHounds’ four runs, including a big two-out, two-run double in the fifth to give his team a 4-0 lead.
■ Naturals closer Mark Peterson notched his second save in four appearances by pitching a scoreless top of the ninth.
■ Midland right fielder J.P. Sportman was ejected by home plate umpire John Felczak for arguing a called third strike to end the fifth inning. He doubled and scored in the second inning on a single by teammate Tyler Ramirez.
On Deck: The Naturals will finish a three-game series against Midland and will send Corey Ray (6-9 5.11 ERA) to the mound against Grant Holmes (8-11 4.90 ERA) for the RockHounds.
Today’s Promotion: It’s Buck Night as mozzarella sticks and 12-ounce Coke drinks are $1, while bags of peanuts and 16-pounce Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts are $2 each at specific locations.
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On The Web: www.nwa naturals.com
Naturals shortstop Humberto Arteaga attempts to field a grounder barehanded Wednesday against the Midland Rockhounds at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale. Visit nwadg.com/photos for more photos from the game.