Naturals Pound Poodles, 9-3 in Hodgetown Debut
AMARILLO, Texas - Northwest Arkansas scored nine runs on 13 hits to aid big league rehabber, Eric Skoglund in a 9-3 win over Amarillo in the franchise's first trip to Hodgetown on Tuesday night.
The Naturals (29-34) put the pressure on Amarillo from the start, forcing Sod Poodles starter, Jesse Scholtens (3-2, 4.92 ERA) to throw 25 first inning pitches and broke-through against him in the third to break the scoreless tie. With the bases-loaded, Emmanuel Rivera drew a walk which brought out Amarillo manager, Phillip Wellman to the mound.
Wellman did not speak to his starting pitcher during the visit, but instead, waited for the plate umpire to approach him. He then proceeded to argue balls and strike which warranted an ejection from the game. The next batter, Anderson Miller drove a single into rightfield to score two and gave the Naturals' a 3-0 lead.
Skoglund (1-0, 1.59 ERA) protected the lead throughout his start. After giving up a first inning, lead-off double to Peter Van Gansen, he retired the next batter which moved the runner to third. The next batter hit a fly ball to rightfielder, Khalil Lee who then cut down Van Gansen at the plate to end the first inning. Skoglund used a double-play ball to erase a hit batsmen in the second inning and proceeded to retire 10 straight hitters over the middle frames.
Northwest Arkansas added to the lead in the fourth inning with a two-out single by Nick Heath and put up three more runs in the fifth inning. Lee hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Meibrys Viloria recorded a two-out, RBI double off the leftfield wall to make it a 7-0 score after four and one-half innings.
Skoglund worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning and Amarillo scored twice against him in the sixth inning - one crossing unearned - and he left with the bases-loaded with two outs. Right-hander, Conner Greene threw one pitch and get the final out of the frame, maintaining the Naturals' lead at 7-2.
Skoglund's final line read five and two-third innings, six hits allowed, two runs, one earned, one walk and three strikeouts with two hits batsmen. He threw 76 pitches, 52 strikes to earn the win.
Taylor Featherston added a run in the seventh inning against the Amarillo bullpen with a bloop double down the rightfield line. An errant throw by the rightfielder allowed Featherston to score on the play for a Little League inside-the-park home run, pushing the lead to 8-2. Travis Jones tacked on a run-scoring single in the eighth - his third hit of the night - and moved the score to 9-2.
Greene retired the first seven batters faced until a man reached in the last of the ninth on error. He eventually scored, crossing unearned, and Greene locked down his first professional save. The 24-year old tossed the final three and one-third innings, allowed one run (unearned) on two hits with a strikeout in the relief outing.
Jones led the offense with three hits - his second three-hit game of the season - with a double and a run batted in. Miller collected a pair of hits in the contest with two RBIs while Featherston and Kort Peterson each added a pair of hits.
Viloria extended his hitting streak to eight games with a 1-for-3 night with RBI and Heath prolonged his hit streak to five games with his RBI single in the fourth.
Altogether, eight of the nine hitters in the line-up recorded at least one hit in the ballgame with four of the eight recording multiple hits.
The victory gives the Naturals four wins in the last five road games and the club has won six of the last eight games.
The Naturals' will look to clinch the club's fourth consecutive victory in the middle-game of the three-game series on Wednesday, June 12 at Hodgetown against Amarillo. Left-hander, J.C. Cloney (2-1, 2.76 ERA) takes the ball for the eighth time this season ready to make this fifth start. He'll be matched-up against right-hander, Lake Bacher (1-2, 4.91 ERA) who will make his 11th appearance and 10th start on the season for the Sod Poodles.
First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. with the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show beginning at 7:05 with the "Voice of the Naturals," Benjamin Kelly on 92.1-FM, the Ticket and the Naturals Radio Network.
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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