Naturals Edged by Late Drillers Homer
SPRINGDALE, Ark - Northwest Arkansas led throughout the majority of the early innings but the Naturals (4-15, 39-50) were ultimately edged by a late Tulsa Drillers (15-5, 49-41) home run in a 5-4 defeat on Friday night at Arvest Ballpark in front of a crowd of 5,933. The Naturals will look for a win in the series finale on Saturday night to split this 4-game series with the Drillers.
For the third consecutive game of the series, Tulsa scored at least a run in the first. The visitors loaded the bases in the opening frame on a single, double and hit-by-pitch before a walk to Zach Reks brought home Errol Robinson for the early 1-0 lead.
Northwest Arkansas would not trail for long in this one as they'd respond with a run of their own in the home half of the inning. The Naturals used three consecutive two-out singles by Erick Mejia, Elier Hernandez and Alex Liddi to plate the game-tying run.
In the second, the Naturals would jump out to a three-run advantage. Corey Toups worked a one-out walk before Nick Dini jumped on a 0-1 pitch and launched a two-run home run over the wall in left-center field for a 3-0 lead. Khalil Lee, the Royals' highly-touted outfield prospect, followed with a two-out double to left and then scored on a RBI single by Mejia for a 4-1 lead.
The Drillers would continue their comeback with a run in the fourth as Robinson continued his big night with a lead-off homer to cut it to a 4-2 game. Then in the sixth, Tulsa would make it all the way back as Drew Jackson hit a solo home run and Luke Raley scored all the way from first base on a throwing error by Naturals' reliever Gabe Speier (BS, 1) to tie the game at 4-4.
The game would remain tied until the eighth inning when Tulsa third basemen Wes Darvill played the part of hero with a game-winning solo home run off of the first pitch he saw in the inning from Yunior Marte (L, 3-3) to give the Drillers the victory.
The come-from-behind win by Tulsa spoiled another strong outing from Naturals' starter Scott Blewett. The big right-hander was in line for the victory after departing in the sixth after allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out six.
Andrew Istler (W, 2-2) earned the win for the Drillers with 3.0 innings of shutout baseball while Dylan Baker (S, 8) got the save.
Both teams finished with 11 hits as Dini, Mejia, Hernandez and Liddi all enjoying multi-hit games for Northwest Arkansas.
Northwest Arkansas will conclude their 4-game series against the Tulsa Drillers, the Double-A Affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the series finale tomorrow night - Saturday, July 14 - with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Gates will open at 4:35 p.m. for a Replica Home Jersey Giveaway by Arvest and a Bullpen Craft Beer Bar Happy Hour from 4:35 p.m. until 5:35 p.m. The Naturals will send LHP Foster Griffin (3-11, 5.99 ERA) to the hill while the Drillers will counter with RHP Dean Kremer (1-0, 0.00 ERA) in the finale. Catch all of the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket starting at 5:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch from Arvest Ballpark.
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 the 2018 season 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.
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