August 2, 2017 - Texas League (TL) - Northwest Arkansas Naturals
SPRINGDALE, Ark - In need of a victory and with their top pitcher on the mound, Northwest Arkansas saw their offense erupt for eight runs in the sixth as the Naturals (15-24/54-55) even up the series with the Arkansas Travelers (17-22/49-60) with a 9-8 win. Tuesday's eight run sixth marked the first time that the Naturals have scored eight runs in an inning since June 14 at Tulsa.
A night after watching Arkansas use big frames to take Game 1, Northwest Arkansas returned the favor on Tuesday night. Trailing 4-1 to their in-state rivals, the Naturals offense exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the sixth. The frame saw the Travelers make two key errors while the Naturals collected seven hits. Humberto Arteaga, Allan de San Miguel, Donnie Dewees, and Samir Duenez had RBI singles while Nick Dini mixed in a two-run double to give them a commanding 9-4 lead.
Even with the five run lead, North Little Rock would not go away. The Travs battled back in the eighth to put up four runs against the Naturals' side-winding reliever LHP Tim Hill, whom has been nearly impossible to score runs against as of late. Tyler Marlette collected a RBI double while Chris Mariscal and Shawn O'Malley each had run-scoring singles to cut the lead to a run; however, that would be as close as they would get as RHP Mark Peterson (S, 1) closed the door in the ninth for the win.
The Naturals scored first for the second consecutive game as they plated a run in the second with a little help of the Travelers. Alfredo Escalera started the frame with a single and advanced to second on a one-out hit by Arteaga. Then with de San Miguel at the plate, Escalera stole third and eventually came into score on a balk by RHP Nick Neidert for the early 1-0 lead.
The lead would not last very long though as North Little Rock would tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the third. Joey Wong worked a lead-off walk and advanced to second on a groundout by Braden Bishop before scoring on a Kyle Waldrop RBI single.
With the game still tied in the fifth, the Travelers would load the bases with one out on three consecutive singles by Wong, O'Malley, and Bishop. Wong would score via a RBI groundout before Seth Mejias-Brean delivered a two-run single to give the visitors a 4-1 lead that would only last until the home half of the sixth when the Naturals exploded for the eight run frame.
Offensively, the Naturals cranked out double-digit hits for the second consecutive night and now have 26 in the two games. Dini led the way by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs while Duenez, Escalera, and Arteaga each had two hits apiece in the contest.
LHP Foster Griffin (W, 8-3) earned his team-best eighth win of the season after tossing 6.2 innings. The former first round pick allowed four runs on eight hits and struck out five to improve his record to 4-1 at Arvest Ballpark on the 2017 season. Neidert (L, 0-3) dropped his third straight start for the Travs as the Naturals scored five runs (only one earned) in 5.1 innings of work.
Northwest Arkansas will conclude their 7-game homestand tomorrow night - Wednesday, August 2 - with the series finale against the Arkansas Travelers (Double-A Seattle Mariners) at 7:05 p.m. It's a What's It? Wednesday at Arvest Ballpark as the Naturals will send RHP Josh Staumont (0-2, 7.02 ERA) to the mound to face RHP Dylan Unsworth (9-8, 3.37 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.
Follow the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Facebook and Twitter @NWANaturals all throughout the year by using the hashtag #NaturalPastime and #CrowntoCrown for all of our up-to-date information on Season 10 of Naturals baseball.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark. For more information, including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.