Mid­land snaps skid at Ar­vest

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - SCOT­TIE BORDELON

SPRING­DALE — For the first time in 2017, Mid­land solved the Nat­u­rals at Ar­vest Ball­park.

In late May, North­west Arkansas swept the RockHounds for the first time since April 2016 and only the third time in fran­chise his­tory. And af­ter big nights of­fen­sively in games one and two of the se­ries, the Nat­u­rals were on the verge of do­ing so again.

Mid­land, though, tagged Nat­u­rals starter Corey Ray for four runs over the mid­dle in­nings and grabbed a 4-2 win to sal­vage a game in the se­ries and snap a five-game skid in Spring­dale. The RockHounds re­ceived a strong ef­fort on the mound from Grant Holmes, who fanned eight over 5.2 in­nings to earn his ninth win of the year.

“He had a re­ally good curve­ball and showed it late,” Nat­u­rals man­ager Vance Wil­son said. “He didn’t re­ally show it un­til he got to two strikes. That’s kind of what we scuf­fled with.”

Holmes made life dif­fi­cult for North­west Arkansas for a ma­jor­ity of his out­ing. He scat­tered just two hits and struck out eight through five be­fore meet­ing trou­ble in the sixth as Samir Duenez home­red for the fourth time in his last nine games to cut the Nat­u­rals’ deficit to 4-2. In the fourth in­ning, Holmes re­tired the side on strikes and, for the game, al­lowed just the one ex­tra base hit.

Mid­land’s Jorge Mateo man­u­fac­tured the game’s first run by open­ing the fourth in­ning with a single be­fore swip­ing sec­ond — with­out a throw — and third. Max Schrock then tal­lied his team-lead­ing eighth RBI of the month with a ground­out to first, scor­ing Mateo. RockHounds eight­hole Sean Murphy came into the game 4-for-29 in Au­gust, but de­liv­ered an RBI single to right in the fifth to ex­tend Mid­land’s lead.

A sac­ri­fice fly and RBI single later, Mid­land took a 4-0 lead in the sixth on starter Ray, who Wil­son thought had “some of his bet­ter com­mand” early on. Ray (6-10) tied a ca­reer-high with five walks and was sad­dled with the loss.

“I thought he kind of got squeezed on a cou­ple of pitches that changed some counts,” Wil­son said. “With that be­ing said, (Ray) wasn’t able to be resilient and come back with some pitches in the zone late and gave up a cou­ple of runs.”

Mauri­cio Ramos tal­lied a pair of hits in the loss for North­west Arkansas, but De­unez’s blast was the ex­tent of North­west Arkansas’

of­fense af­ter a com­bined 17 runs and 24 hits in the first two games of the three-game set. Duenez’s home run gives him 16 for the sea­son to go along with 69 RBI.

“He’s do­ing a nice job of get­ting back to what his swing is,” Wil­son said. “When he’s just a good hit­ter the ball goes out of the park. He’s worked his tail off.”

SHORT HOPS

■ Trail­ing 4-2, North­west Arkansas’ Anderson Miller belted a shot into the gap in right-cen­ter field in the sev­enth in­ning Thurs­day. As he rounded sec­ond, Miller lost his foot­ing and at­tempted to scram­ble back to sec­ond, but was tagged out for the sec­ond out of the in­ning.

■ Af­ter al­low­ing a man on in the first and sec­ond in­nings, Ray es­caped trou­ble with a pair of dou­ble play balls early. Ray then picked off his sixth run­ner of the year to close the sec­ond.

On Deck: North­west Arkansas con­tin­ues its sixgame

home­s­tand tonight and opens up a weekend se­ries with Frisco. The Nat­u­rals are sched­uled to send right-han­der Zack Lovvorn (4-5, 4.72 ERA) to the mound against Yo­han­der Men­dez (7-7, 3.86 ERA).

To­day’s Pro­mo­tion: Faith and Fam­ily Night pregame con­cert fea­tur­ing Micah Tyler with a fire­works show fol­low­ing the game.

On The Air: 92.1 FM, The Ticket

On The Web: www.nwa nat­u­rals.com

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