Naturals End Season with a Shutout Win
SPRINGDALE, Ark - Shortstop Kevin Merrell came through in the clutch with a two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (57-81/26-44) end the season with 2-0 shutout win over the Frisco RoughRiders (68-71/35-35) on Monday afternoon at Arvest Ballpark. After today's victory in the season finale, which was the fastest game in franchise-history at one hour and 53 minutes, the Naturals finish the season with a 36-33 record at home.
Locked in a scoreless game in the eighth, Angelo Castellano began the frame with a single against reliever Blake Bass (L, 8-5) to begin the late rally. After D.J. Burt flew out, Freddy Fermin singled to left field to put runners at first and second. After a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, Merrell came through to give the Naturals' the game-deciding 2-0 advantage.
Northwest Arkansas called upon Arkansas-native Tyler Zuber (S, 10) in the ninth and he was up to the challenge. The former Arkansas Stater gave up a hit but then retired the next three hitters, two by strikeout, to record his 10th save of the season.
The finale moved quickly because both pitching staffs were on top of their game. Left-hander J.C. Cloney got the baseball for Northwest Arkansas and dealt for his 7.0 innings of work. The former Arizona Wildcat scattered eight hits and struck out five in his seven-scoreless frames but did not factor into the decision. Right-hander Grant Gavin (W, 6-4) picked up his sixth win of the season out of the bullpen as he fired a scoreless eighth inning before Merrell gave the Naturals the lead in the home half.
The RoughRiders countered with excellent pitching throughout the finale as well. Right-hander Collin Wiles got the late start and held the Naturals off the scoreboard through his 4.0 innings of work. Richelson Pena, whom was originally scheduled to start the game, fired 2.0 scoreless frames in relief of Wiles before giving way to Demarcus Evans for a perfect seventh inning.
The Frisco pitchers held the Naturals to just two hits until the Northwest Arkansas hitters got to Bass in the eighth for three.
Merrell led the offensive attack with two hits and two RBIs while Castellano, Fermin and Khalil Lee chipped in the other hits.
Today's game against the RoughRiders marked the conclusion of the Texas League's 2019 regular season. Northwest Arkansas will now head into the off-season to begin preparations for the 2020 season. Naturals baseball will return to Arvest Ballpark next year on Thursday, April 16, 2020 when they host the Corpus Christi Hooks (Double-A Houston Astros) on Opening Night.
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, promotions, group options and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.
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Texas League Stories from September 2, 2019
- Tulsa Takes Win in Regular Season Finale - Tulsa Drillers
- Season Ends with 4-3 Loss to Tulsa - Corpus Christi Hooks
- Cardinals Fall 11-6 to RockHounds in Season Finale - Springfield Cardinals
- Ninth Inning Rally Falls Short in Regular Season Finale - Arkansas Travelers
- Sod Poodles Prevail over Travelers in Regular-Season Finale - Amarillo Sod Poodles
- Naturals End Season with a Shutout Win - Northwest Arkansas Naturals
- Riders Fall 2-0 in 2019 Finale - Frisco RoughRiders
- Hounds Shutout Cardinals, Take South Division Lead - Midland RockHounds
- Cardinals Downed by RockHounds, Season Closes on Monday Afternoon - Springfield Cardinals
- Wild Rally Gives Travs Dramatic Win - Arkansas Travelers
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