Early Walks Doom Naturals in 4-0 Loss at Midland
MIDLAND, Texas - The RockHounds scored three runs with one hit in the opening inning and that proved to be enough. Midland evened the best-of-three game series with a 4-0 win over the Naturals on Wednesday night at Security Bank Ballpark.
Starter, Gerson Garabito (6-10, 4.14) walked the first three hitters of the game, struck out the next two and then gave-up a bases-clearing double to put Northwest Arkansas in an early 3-0 hole. The 24-year old settled in after the double and retired seven of the next eight batters and gave five innings of three-run baseball with six strikeouts.
Northwest Arkansas (52-73/21-36) struggled to find the clutch hit against the RockHounds' pitchers on Wednesday night, leaving eight men on base and going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The Naturals also made two key base-running blunders late in the contest to thwart any potential rally.
Infielder, Kevin Merrell continued his homecoming back to the Permian Basin. The former Midland infielder finished a homer shy of the cycle with a first inning triple, third inning bunt double and an infield hit in the seventh. Merrell pushed the bunt past the charging third baseman and, with the over-shift employed the right-side of the infield, Merrell raced into second with a feet-first slide for his 17th double of the season.
Merrell's three-hit performance is his fifth of the season and his second as a member of the Naturals. Merrell has now hit safely in four straight games with seven hits in his last 17 at-bats with two doubles and a triple. Jordan George singled twice for the other multi-hit performance by a Natural.
Left-hander, Emilio Ogando extended his scoreless inning streak to 12.1 innings with a shutout frame in the sixth. Newly added left-hander, Jake Brentz allowed a two-out double to the Texas League leader in two-baggers, Edwin Diaz, which accounted for the RockHounds' fourth run of the game.
Right-hander, Grant Gavin, struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning.
The Naturals saw the club's three-game road win streak snapped; but have won five of the last seven ballgames. Northwest Arkansas looks to clinch the club's second straight series victory on Thursday night in the rubber-match of the series. Left-hander, J.C. Cloney (2-4, 3.53) takes the ball against right-hander, James Kaprielian (1-1, 2.50) for the RockHounds.
Join the "Voice of the Naturals," Benjamin Kelly on 92.1-FM, the Ticket and the Naturals Radio Network for a 6:40 Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to the 7:00 p.m.
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.
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