Naturals Plate Seven Unanswered, Capture Share of First in North Division
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Three hits. Three walks. Two, two-out errors. It all equaled a five-run sixth inning and vaulted the Naturals a 7-4 win over the Arkansas Travelers on Tuesday night at Dickey-Stephens Park. The victory puts the Naturals into a two-way tie for First Place in the Texas League North Division with six games remaining in the first half.
With the victory, the Naturals also won their seventh series in the last 10 attempts and will roll into Tulsa, Okla. on Wednesday night with plenty of positive mojo in their pockets.
After spotting Arkansas a 4-0 lead through the first four innings, the bats came to life in the fifth.
Donnie Dewees stroked a two-out single to left field to score John Brontsema from second, cutting in the Travelers lead. Dewees took third base on the play as Chuck Taylor's throw arrived errantly at home, attempting to throw out Brontsema. Dewees scored two pitches later on a passed ball to pull Northwest Arkansas with a 4-2 margin.
Starter, Zach Lovvorn (4-3, 5.40) posted shutdown inning in the last of the fifth inning on eight pitches and quickly got his teammates back to the plate where they were ready to feast on the Travelers' starter, Chase De Jong.
Elier Hernandez dropped a single in to left field with one out and streaked home to score on a double by Jecksson Flores to cut the deficit to 4-3. De Jong was lifted for reliever, Art Warren and the wheels fell off for the Travelers.
After Anderson Miller singled to put men at the corners, Nick Dini walked to load the bases. Pinch hitter, Alex Liddi walked to tie the score at 4-4 and Warren was immediately pulled from the outing. Two batters later and two pitchers later for Arkansas, Dewees put the ball in-play off reliever, Daniel Schlereth and second baseman, Chris Mariscal committed a rare error to allow for the go-ahead run to cross and keep the bases load.
Erick Mejia walked to push the Naturals' lead to 6-4 and Nicky Lopez chopped a ball to first baseman, Joey Cureletta, who bobbled the play, and made it a 7-4 lead.
Reliever, Yunior Marte bridge the gap with two innings of scoreless relief in the sixth and seventh inning. Left-hander, Gabe Speier notched the first out of the eighth and Franco Terrero retired all five batters faced to earn his second save of the season.
Lovvorn finished five innings, allowed four runs on six hits with a walk and a strikeout to earn his fourth victory of the season.
With the double, Flores extended his hitting streak to 14 games - a new career-best for the infielder. Northwest Arkansas (32-32) out-hit the Travelers, eight to seven on the night.
The club will head west to ONEOK Field to open a four-game series on Wednesday night against the Tulsa Drillers (31-33) and continue their march towards a First Half North Division Pennant. The Naturals clinched the First Half flag at ONEOK Field on June 17, 2017, just a season ago.
Right-hander, Scott Blewett (3-4, 5.21) will make his 13th start of the season against right-hander, Justin DeFratus (2-2, 3.90) countering for the Drillers.
Join the Voice of the Naturals, Benjamin Kelly, for a 6:45 p.m. pregame show leading up to the 7:05 p.m. first pitch on 92.1-FM, the Ticket.
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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