Duenez’s blast lifts Naturals
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.”
■ 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