Duenez’s blast lifts Nat­u­rals

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL - MIKE CAPSHAW

NAT­U­RALS 2, ROUGHRID­ERS 1

SPRING­DALE — Samir Duenez added to his sea­son-high home run to­tal to lead North­west Arkansas to a 2-1 win Fri­day against Frisco at Ar­vest Ball­park.

Duenez snapped a 1-1 tie with his blast over the right-field wall in the sixth in­ning. It was his sec­ond homer in as many games and 17th of the sea­son, a ca­reer high. Duenez, the Kansas City Roy­als’ No. 14 prospect ac­cord­ing to MLB.com, showed his strength by turn­ing on an out­side pitch de­liv­ered by RoughRid­ers re­liever Pe­dro Payano.

It trav­eled 388 feet, ac­cord­ing to a tracking sys­tem. He launched a 407-foot homer on Thurs­day.

“He’s in that mode right now where he can kind of do it all,” said North­west Arkansas man­ager Vance Wil­son. “The kid is so strong with in­cred­i­bly fast hands. There’s a rea­son he’s do­ing what he’s do­ing this year. He’s pretty spe­cial.”

The Nat­u­rals an­swered quickly af­ter Luis Marte’s one-out solo homer spot­ted the RoughRid­ers a 1-0 lead in the third in­ning. North­west Arkansas’ Hunter Dozier plugged a dou­ble into the left-cen­ter field gap to lead off the fourth in­ning. He moved to third on a balk by Frisco re­liever Pe­dro Payano be­fore be­ing driven in by Mauri­cio Ramos to even the score at 1-1.

North­west Arkansas starter Zach Lovvorn al­lowed one earned run by scat­ter­ing six hits in 5 1 / in­nings, which 3 Wil­son said was much-needed be­cause the right-han­der was on a pitch count. He struck out three bat­ters, but was ef­fi­cient, throw­ing 40 strikes on 59 pitches.

“We’re try­ing to build him back up, so he was on a pitch count,” Wil­son said. “Some­times, games like that can eat up your bullpen, so for him to go as long as he did and keep his pitch count low into the sixth in­ning, I’m re­ally proud of him. That saves our bullpen for the next cou­ple of days where we can start us­ing some matchups.”

Matt Tenuta picked up the win by work­ing 2 1 /3 score­less in­nings be­fore be­ing re­lieved by An­drew Ed­wards in the ninth. Ed­wards, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound right-han­der, re­tired the side in or­der with a fast­ball that topped out at 98 mph to pick up his third save.

“The guy has had kind of a rough year, com­ing out of spring train­ing to re­hab (an undis­closed in­jury),” Wil­son said, “But, boy, he’s back and to have a back-end guy like that, it’s huge.”

SHORT HOPS

■ Paulo Or­lando con­tin­ued his strong hit­ting dur­ing his re­hab as­sign­ment at North­west Arkansas. The out­fielder, who broke his left tibia when he fouled a pitch off his leg with Triple-A Oma- ha in May, was 2-for-3 with sin­gles in the first and eighth in­nings. He also walked. He’s now 11-for-31 (.341) with three RBIs for the Nat­u­rals.

■ Frisco left-handed pitcher Yo­han­der Men­dez, the No. 2 prospect in the Texas Rangers or­ga­ni­za­tion by Base­ball Amer­ica, pitched two shutout in­nings. It was his first start in two weeks af­ter a stiff neck landed the 22-year- old Venezue­lan on the dis­abled list. Mul­ti­ple re­ports in­di­cate he’s un­der strong con­sid­er­a­tion for a pro­mo­tion to AAA-Round Rock be­fore the end of the sea­son.

On Deck: North­west Arkansas con- tin­ues its six-game home­s­tand with Game 2 of a three-game se­ries against the RoughRid­ers. The Nat­u­rals are sched­uled to send left-han­der Fos­ter Grif­fin (4-5, 4.72) to the mound while Frisco is ex­pected to counter with right-han­der Richel­son Pena (1-0. 1.50).

To­day’s Pro­mo­tion: The first 2,000 fans will re­ceive an Ar­vest Ball­park replica, cour­tesy of Ar­vest Bank. On The Air: 92.1 FM, The Ticket On The Web: www.nwanat­u­rals.com

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