Naturals Hang on for Series Opening Win
SPRINGDALE, Ark - Coming off a tough road trip to Springfield where they dropped four consecutive games, Northwest Arkansas was in need of a key win. The Naturals (5-20, 40-55) scored four runs in the first three innings and were able to hang on for a key series opening win over the first-place Tulsa Drillers (19-7, 53-43) on Thursday night at Arvest Ballpark.
The pitching made the difference for Northwest Arkansas, which allowed them to hold on for the victory. Naturals' starter Foster Griffin (W, 4-12) was really good and kept the high-powered Drillers' offense at bay. The lefty tossed 6.0 innings of two-run baseball while striking out six to snap a person 0-6 skid and earn his first victory since June 11 in North Little Rock.
Griffin exited the game in the seventh with a 4-2 lead before Gabe Speier (H, 3) and Andres Machado (S, 2) did the rest. Outside of a Tulsa run in the eighth, the bullpen duo limited the visitors to just a run on five hits over the final three frames.
Tulsa struck first in the opener as Cael Brockmeyer singled home a run in the second for an early 1-0 lead. Northwest Arkansas would respond with a run of their own in the home half as Corey Toups delivered a RBI single to plate Nick Dini and tie it at 1-1.
More fireworks occurred in the third as Tulsa retook the lead. Errol Robinson worked a lead-off walk and then came into score on a RBI double by Luke Raley for the 2-1 advantage. It would be short-lived though as the Naturals responded with three, two-out runs in their turn at bat. Alex Liddi tied the game with a solo home run, his 16th of the season, to right-center field. With two on, Anderson Miller delivered a run-scoring single before Dini scored to make it 4-2 on a defensive miscue by the Drillers.
The game would remain 4-2 into the eighth before Tulsa would cut it to a one-run game. The first three batters reached base via singles with the last being a second RBI knock for Brockmeyer. Naturals' Manager Mike Rojas would summon Machado from the bullpen with two on and nobody out and Machado would respond with a strikeout and an inning-ending double play.
Parker Curry (L, 1-2) got the start for Tulsa and took the loss after allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits in 6.0 innings.
The victory snapped a 7-game losing streak for Northwest Arkansas as they get ready for seven home games in the next 6 days.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their series against the Tulsa Drillers, the Double-A Affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Game 2 of this 4-game set tomorrow night - Friday, July 20 - with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Gates will open at 6:00 p.m. for Military Appreciation Night on Fireworks Friday presented by Black Hills Energy. The Naturals will send RHP Pedro Fernandez (3-2, 3.64 ERA) to the mound while the Drillers have yet to name a starter. Catch the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket starting at 6:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show.
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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Texas League Stories from July 19, 2018
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