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Naturals Broom Travelers in Thursday Twinbill

June 11, 2009 - Texas League (TL) - Northwest Arkansas Naturals News Release

SPRINGDALE, AR- The Naturals had won 57 games at Arvest Ballpark since it opened in April 2008, and not a single one of them had been on a walkoff home run.

In one swing of the bat Thursday night, outfielder Jordan Parraz changed that and etched his name into the record books.

His eighth inning blast off Travelers closer David Herndon broke a 1-1 tie and led the Naturals to a 2-1 victory in the first inning of Thursday's twin-bill. The Naturals would take game two as well with a 5-3 final in the third double-header these two teams have played thus far this season.

The Naturals and Travelers kept things scoreless through six innings off stellar pitching by Travs' starter Jordan Walden and Naturals' starter Blake Wood. Walden completed six innings, allowing four hits while striking out seven. Wood matched him frame for frame for the first six innings.

Neither team had a very good scoring opportunity until the Naturals managed to get two runners into scoring position with one out in the sixth. Jose Duarte singled and was bunted over by Kurt Mertins. Walden then walked Jordan Parraz, who reached base safely three times in game one, to bring up slugger Corey Smith. Walden got out of the inning by fanning both Smith and Brian McFall who followed.

Blake Wood's evening continued into the seventh, but he was unable to keep the Travelers off the board. Nate Sutton led off with a single and was bunted over by Hank Conger. Sutton would advance to third on a groundout by Val Majewski and get home on a single to shallow right by Mark Trumbo that squeezed through the hole between first and second. Wood finished allowing only the lone run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out one.

Naturals' designated hitter greeted Herndon (2-5), the Travs' closer, with a soft single just past first base. Josh Johnson came in to pinch run and got all the way around to tie it on the ensuing double by Cody Strait. Strait would get to third on a groundout by Jeff Howell. After Chris McConnell grounded out, Jose Duarte walked and then stole second. Strait crossed the plate on a grounder deep in the hole at short by Kurt Mertins which Travs' shortstop Hainley Statia fielded cleanly. The relay to first was ruled as in time by first base umpire Jimmy Volpi, sending the game into extras. Replays appeared to show the runner Mertins had beaten the throw by two steps.

The play became inconsequential when Chris Nicoll (5-0) set the Travs down in order in the eighth and Parraz led off the bottom of the frame with his homer that cleared the center field wall. Nicoll now leads the Naturals in wins.

The Travelers (23-34) would score the first run in the second game, as well. Val Majewski, in his first week as a member of the Arkansas Travelers, took Naturals' starter Robinson Tejeda, the Kansas City Royals' reliever making the start as part of a major league rehabilitation assignment, deep to right in the top of the second.

The Naturals would strike back quickly in their portion of the frame. Brian McFall singled with one out and came around on a throwing error by Travs' starter Barret Browning (0-4). They'd get three more in the third to take a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Corey Smith hit an RBI single to drive in Kurt Mertins, and Ed Lucas drove in two more runs on a single that scored Jordan Parraz and McFall to put the Travs in a 4-1 hole. Browning would get the hook after going 3 1/3 innings and allowing six hits and four runs (three earned).

Dan Cortes, the night's scheduled starter, followed Tejeda from the Naturals' bullpen and cruised through his first inning of work but needed some help navigating some of the other frames. He got a particularly key lift from the defense, especially the work of catcher Cody Clark, who threw out three would-be basestealers on the evening and took some key relays at home plate to cut down Traveler runners trying to score.

The Travelers did manage to put two runs on the board in the fifth. A sacrifice fly by Hainley Statia and the single that followed by Coby Smith scored Mark Trumbo and Branden Florence to cut the Naturals lead to a single run. Corey Smith homered in the bottom of the frame to give the Naturals a welcome insurance run and Cortes settled down for the top of the sixth, setting down the Travs in order. He made it a little interesting in the final frame, however, walking Florence with one out and then yielding a single to Flint Wipke. Manager Brian Poldberg lifted Cortes in favor of Greg Holland, who coaxed Statia to ground out and Coby Smith to fly out end the game, earning Holland his third save on the season.

Cortes (4-5) went 4 1/3 innings and got the win. He allowed four hits and four walks while fanning only one batter. Jordan Parraz also managed to get into the record books in the second game as well, extending his hitting streak to 14 games and tying Corey Smith's streak from earlier this season.

For the Naturals (29-28), it was their first time rising above the .500 mark since May 25th.

These two teams will play yet another double-header Friday night, to make up for Wednesday's rainout. Game one begins at 5:05 P.M. with right-hander Anthony Lerew (3-3) opposing Travs' stellar young lefty Trevor Reckling (3-1), who has foiled Northwest Arkansas twice already in 2009.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. The Naturals have a toll-free ticket hotline (1-877-444-2637) for fans to purchase Naturals tickets. Our website, nwanaturals.com offers fans the opportunity to purchase tickets online and avoid lines at the ticket windows by printing their tickets at home or at the office.

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