Naturals Open Series with Walk-Off Win
SPRINGDALE, Ark - Northwest Arkansas continued their winning ways against Tulsa as the Naturals (50-71/19-34) opened the 3-game series with a 3-2 walk-off win over the Drillers (67-56/30-24) on Friday night at Arvest Ballpark. It was the third straight victory for Northwest Arkansas while each of their last three victories against Tulsa at home have now come in walk-off fashion.
With the game tied at 2-2 in extras, it only took one pitch in the bottom of the tenth inning to end it as Arkansas State alum Jordan George roped the first pitch he saw from Yordy Cabrera (L, 1-1) into the right-center field gap to plate Blake Perkins.
The game-winning hit and post-game celebration was setup by some good pitching and quality defense in the top half of the frame by the Naturals to keep the Drillers off the board. With a runner starting at second base, Dan Tillo (W, 1-1) got Carlos Rincon to line into a double-play then struck out Cody Thomas to give his offense a chance to win the game in their turn at-bat.
Tillo earned his first Double-A victory for Northwest Arkansas. While he got credited with a blown save after taking over with a 2-0 lead and giving up a couple runs in the eighth, he worked two scoreless frames in the ninth and tenth to pick up the win.
The story throughout most of the game was the outing put together by Naturals' starter J.C. Cloney. The left-hander was brilliant as he twirled 7.0 scoreless innings only allowing one hit and striking out five on just 73 pitches, 50 of which for strikes.
Northwest Arkansas had raced out to a 2-0 lead in the second. Khalil Lee, Emmanuel Rivera, and George started the inning with three consecutive singles to score the first run of the night. With runners at the corners, Angelo Castellano laid down a sacrifice bunt that brought home Rivera for the 2-0 advantage. The early runs put up against Leo Crawford were the first runs scored on the Tulsa left-hander this season in Double-A as the Drillers' starter had entered the game with a 1-0 record and a 0.00 ERA.
With the early lead and the pitching of Cloney, the Naturals looked like they'd cruise to a series opening win. However, that would change in the eighth as pinch hitter Connor Wong hit a two-out, two-run home run off Tillo to tie the game at 2-2.
Northwest Arkansas out-hit Tulsa in the opener by an eight-to-four clip as Lee, Rivera, George and D.J. Burt paced the offense by each having multi-hit games. On the season, the Naturals are now 35-14 when they out-hit their opponents.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their homestand with Game 2 against the Tulsa Drillers (Double-A Los Angeles Dodgers) tomorrow night - Saturday, August 17th - with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Saturday night's game features an Adalberto Mondesi Bobble-Legs giveaway presented by Cox Communications as well as our Bullpen Craft Beer Bar Happy Hour from 4:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Northwest Arkansas will give the baseball to veteran right-hander Scott Blewett (0-2, 6.14 ERA) while the Drillers will counter with a right-hander of their own in Markus Solbach (2-0, 0.89 ERA). Catch the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket at 5:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show.
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 August 16, 2019
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