Naturals Claim Series with Slugfest Win
SPRINGDALE, Ark - Offenses were on display at Arvest Ballpark as the Naturals (15-22) claimed the series with a slugfest win over the Tulsa Drillers (20-17) in Game 2 on Tuesday night. In the 12-10 victory, Northwest Arkansas hit a season-high five home runs, including going back-to-back on two separate occasions, as they set a mark for the most runs in a game this season.
After starting in an early 3-0 hole, Northwest Arkansas got things rolling in the third inning as Taylor Featherston and Xavier Fernandez started the frame with back-to-back home runs off of Drillers' starter Michael Bowden. Then with an out in the inning, three consecutive singles by Nick Heath, Khalil Lee and Gabriel Cancel gave the Naturals the 4-3 advantage. The third inning has been the key thus far for Northwest Arkansas as they followed up last night's seven-run third with four more tonight.
From there on out, the game would turn into a back-and-forth affair. Tulsa reclaimed the lead if the fourth on a two-run triple by Gavin Lux before the Naturals tied it in the home half on a triple by Anderson Miller and a RBI groundout by Travis Jones.
Both team's would score runs in the fifth as the Drillers took a 6-5 lead on a RBI single by Keibert Ruiz before the Naturals exploded for another four-spot with two outs in the home half of the frame with the help of the long ball. The two-out surge was started by Cancel as he hit a towering home run to left to tie the game at 6-6. After a sharp single by Emmanuel Rivera, Miller and Jones got in on the fun as they duo hit back-to-back home runs to give Northwest Arkansas a three-run lead at 9-6.
The game remained 9-6 in the Naturals favor until the seventh when the Drillers stormed back. Zach Reks homered to begin the inning before D.J. Peters tied the proceedings with a two-out, two-run double. The tie game would be short-lived though as Northwest Arkansas would regain the lead after the stretch on a sacrifice fly by Rivera to plate Lee for the 10-9 advantage.
Two unearned runs in the eighth gave the Naturals the cushion they would need to withstand another Tulsa run in the ninth.
Right-handed reliever Franco Terrero (W, 2-2) earned the win out of the bullpen while closer Gabe Speier (S, 5) picked up his fifth save of the season with 2.0 innings of one-run baseball, no earned, while striking out four and walking none.
Shea Spitzbarth (L, 2-1) took the loss for Tulsa after giving up the go-ahead run to Northwest Arkansas in the seventh.
The offensive outburst was a welcome sight as five different players hit home runs (Cancel, Featherston, Fernandez, Jones and Miller) for the Naturals. The 12 runs was a season-high, eclipsing 11 on April 11, while the 14 hits were the second-best total.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their 7-game homestand as they go for the 3-game sweep of the Tulsa Drillers (Double-A Los Angeles Dodgers) tomorrow morning - Wednesday, May 15 - with first pitch scheduled for 11:05 a.m. Tomorrow's game is the final SWEPCO Education Day Game of the year with gates opening at 10:00 a.m. for the numerous students and chaperones scheduled to be in attendance. The Naturals will send right-hander Gerson Garabito (2-2, 3.58 ERA) to the hill while the Drillers will counter with the highly-touted Dustin May (2-2, 3.41 ERA). Catch the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket at 10:45 a.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch.
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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