August 3, 2017 - Texas League (TL) - Northwest Arkansas Naturals
SPRINGDALE, Ark - The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (16-24/55-55) slugged three home runs on Wednesday night to power past the Arkansas Travelers (17-23/49-61) by a 7-2 final. The series win for the Naturals was the team's first series win since sweeping the Corpus Christi Hooks (Double-A Houston Astros) in a 3-game set at Arvest Ballpark on June 29 through July 1.
After Arkansas opened the game with a couple of runs in the first on a RBI double by Kyle Waldrop and a sacrifice fly by Marcus Littlewood, it was all Northwest Arkansas the rest of the way in the finale as the Naturals' offense began to flex their muscle.
Trailing 2-0 in the third, Cody Jones started the mini home run barrage by launching a mammoth solo home run over the wall in right field to pull the Naturals within a single run. Then in the fourth, Samir Duenez led off wi th a solo shot onto the berm in right to tie up the game at 2-2 before Alfredo Escalera hit a towering solo homer to left to take a 3-2 lead just two batters later.
Riding the momentum of the three home runs, the Naturals broke open the one-run affair in the fifth frame. Northwest Arkansas would send eight batters to the plate and score four run on four hits to ultimately set the final score at 7-2. The combination of Duenez and Escalera led the charge again as they delivered a RBI single and a two-run double respectively.
Duenez almost made history at Arvest Ballpark on Wednesday night as the slugging first basemen went 4-for-4 with a single, two doubles, and a home run. His last at bat of the game proved to be a bit unlucky as he was needing a triple for the cycle and the lefty hit a fly ball down the left field line that landed and bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, which took away the chance to accomplish the feat that has only been done once before by Bubba Starling in North Little Rock on July 28, 2015.
The offense gave more than enough support to the Naturals' pitching staff, which was led by starter RHP Josh Staumont. Staumont (W, 1-2) settled down after giving up a pair of runs in the first to the Travs and was solid throughout his 5.2 innings of work. The hard-throwing righty scattered seven hits and struck out two to earn his first win with Northwest Arkansas in 2017.
Tonight's game concluded the 3-game series against the Travelers as well as the Naturals 7-game homestand. Northwest Arkansas will now hit the road for a 4-game series with the Springfield Cardinals (Double-A St. Louis Cardinals) at Hammons Field from Thursday, August 3 through Sunday, August 6. The Naturals will then enjoy a league-wide OFF day on Monday, August 7 before beginning a 6-game homestand at Arvest Ballpark on Tuesday, August 8. The next homestand begins with a 3-game series against the Midland RockHounds (Double-A Oakland A's) through August 10 before the Naturals welcome the Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A Texas Rangers) to Arvest Ballpark for a 3-game series from August 11 through August 13.
Catch all of the live play-by-play action tomorrow night - Thursday, August 3 - with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket, your home for Naturals baseball, at 6:50 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch at 7:10 p.m. from Springfield, Missouri as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals take on the Double-A St. Louis Cardinals.