July 31, 2017 - Texas League (TL) - Northwest Arkansas Naturals
SPRINGDALE, Ark - In search of a second consecutive win, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (14-23/53-54) scored first in Sunday's finale but would ultimately fall by the score of 6-3 as the Springfield Cardinals (24-13/58-49) win the series.
The Naturals took an early 1-0 lead in the fourth on a solo home run by Alfredo Escalera. Escalera led off the frame by jumping on the first pitch he saw from LHP Austin Gomber and hit a towering shot to left field for his fifth big fly of the season. The one-run advantage was short-lived though as the Cardinals responded with two runs in the fifth to take the lead. Jacob Wilson started the inning with a single and advanced to second on a balk. Then with one out, Jesse Jenner brought Wilson home with a run-scoring single and then scored on a RBI double down the left field line by Tommy Edman to put Springfield out in front, 2-1.
The visitors would go on to add two more runs in the eighth to extend their lead to 4-1 as Darren Seferina hit a solo home run while Wilson brought home John Nogowski with a sacrifice fly. Northwest Arkansas proved resilient and would not go down quietly as they fought back with two runs in the home half of the frame. Donnie Dewees, Jr. delivered the first run as he lined a RBI single to right field to plate Cody Jones, whom had singled to begin the inning. After Dewees moved to second base on a groundout, Samir Duenez came through with a clutch, two-out single to score Dewees to bring the Naturals within one at 4-3.
The late rally would not be enough as the North Division leading Cardinals countered with two runs of their own in the ninth to put the game out of reach. Oscar Mercado delivered the crucial blow as he launched a two-run home run to set the final at 6-3.
Gomber (W, 5-7), the Springfield starter, earned the win by limiting Northwest Arkansas to only a run on three hits through 7.0 innings of work. Meanwhile, hard-throwing reliever RHP Rowan Wick (S, 4) earned the save. On the other side, LHP Jake Kalish (L, 0-6) took the hard-luck loss as he threw well again on Sunday afternoon. The lefty made his seventh start of the year and twirled 7.0 frames of two-run ball. In his last two starts, he is 0-1 but has only allowed two runs through 12.0 innings.
On the day, the Cardinals out-hit Northwest Arkansas by a 12-to-6 margin. Jones led the way offensively for Northwest Arkansas with two hits while the top of the order in Dewees, Escalera, and Duenez accounted for the three RBIs.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their 7-game homestand tomorrow night - Monday, July 31 - by welcoming the Arkansas Travelers (Double-A Seattle Mariners) to Arvest Ballpark for a 3-game series. Monday's 7:05 p.m. game is another Ozarks Electric Monday Night Lights featuring Dollar Hot Dogs by Tyson Foods and Indigo Sky Casino Baseball Bingo. The Naturals will send RHP Corey Ray (6-8, 4.63 ERA) to the mound in the series opener and he'll be opposed by RHP Justin DeFratus (4-5, 4.70 ERA) of the Travelers. Catch all of the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket, your home for Naturals baseball, at 6:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch.