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Naturals Overcome Five-Run Deficit But Fall to Cardinals in Extras

September 18, 2021 - Double-A Central League (AA Central) - Northwest Arkansas Naturals News Release

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals overcame what was at one point a five-run deficit to force extra innings with the Springfield Cardinals, but came up short in the 11th inning, falling 13-12.

The Cardinals scored in each of the first four innings of the game, consistently staying a step ahead of the Naturals, then Springfield added four in the sixth to jump out to a 9-5 lead.

Northwest Arkansas scored one run in the first, as a run came home when Meibrys Viloria grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. In the second, Brett Bewley brought across Freddy Fermin on a sacrifice fly and then Viloria and Seuly Matias scored on wild pitches in the fifth inning.

Bewley helped kickstart the comeback in the eighth inning, when he connected on a two-run homer that scored Brewer Hicklen, a play that was originally ruled a double but overturned after an umpires conference. A three-run eighth was capped after Clay Dungan singled, took second on an error, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Jeison Guzmán groundout to get the Naturals within two.

A double from Matias and single from Fermin with one out in the ninth brought the Naturals one away, then a Hicklen walk moved pinch runner Austin Dennis to second. Bewley bounced into what would have been a game-ending double play, but ended up scoring Dennis to tie the game 9-9 on a Springfield error, as the Cardinals were unable to turn the double play.

While reliever Jose Cuas was an out away from keeping Springfield off the scoreboard in the 10th, retiring the first 8 batters he faced in a 3.1 inning outing, the Cardinals were able to push a run across in the top half and the Naturals added one in the bottom half on another RBI groundout form Guzmán that tied the score back at 10-10.

The Cardinals struck Cuas for three runs in the top of the 11th, on four straight hitters reaching on three singles and a an error. Josh Dye came in to get the final two outs and bridge the game to the bottom of the 11th.

On the first pitch in the bottom half, Matias crushed a two-run homer to left field to score the placed runner from second, but the Naturals could not gain any momentum after that and were retired in order to fall by a run.

Dungan and Matias each offered three-hit games, with Matias coming just a triple away from the cycle. Viloria and Fermin each had two hits while Guzmán and Matias drove in two runs and Bewley had three RBI. In total, the 12 runs and 14 hits for the Naturals were both the most in a loss this season, the first time the Naturals had lost when scoring 11 or more runs this season. However, the Naturals have yet to win when allowing 11 or more runs.

With the loss to Springfield (45) and losses from Frisco and Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas (62-55) is still just 1.0 game out of a playoff spot, behind Frisco, 0.5 game behind Arkansas for third in the league and 0.5 game ahead of Tulsa with two games left against the Cardinals at Arvest Ballpark.

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Double-A Central League Stories from September 18, 2021

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