Naturals Split Double-Header, Elimination No. Down to One
TULSA, Okla. - Northwest Arkansas split a double-header at ONEOK Field on Wednesday night, taking game one by a 12-4 final in seven frames; but blanked in the night cap, 1-0 by the Tulsa Drillers. With the Drillers winning the second game, the Naturals' elimination number for second half postseason contention has been dwindled to one.
In the opener, Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa exchanged runs through the first three frames before the Naturals busted open for a six-run fourth inning against Drillers starter, Mitchell White (5-7, 4.31). With the score tied at 3-3, Nick Dini doubled home Alfredo Escalera from second on a ball that fluttered over the out-reached glove of centerfielder DJ Peters, streaking in the right-center gap to give the Naturals the lead at 4-3, an advantage the club did not relinquish.
White proceeded to load the bases over the next two batters and handed the ball over to reliever, Marshall Kawoski. Naturals' second baseman, Jecksson Flores belted Kawoski's 2-0 pitch down the left-field line for a bases-clearing double, pushing the Naturals lead to 7-3. The next batter, Samir Duenez, cracked his ninth home run of the season to make it a 9-3 games.
Flores came through with another bases clearing double in the seventh inning to make it a 12-4 games. The 24-year old tallied a career-high six RBIs in the game, the most by a Naturals' player this season. Alex LIddi finished a double shy of the cycle with his 23rd home run setting the offensive tone in the second inning for the Naturals.
The 23 homers this season by Liddi match the fourth-most in a single-season by a Naturals (Jamie Romak, 2011) in franchise history. Duenez finished with three runs batted in on the game.
Starter, Foster Griffin, was touched up for three runs on five hits in two and two-third innings; but was picked up by reliever, Cristian Castillo (2-2, 5.15 ERA). Castillo fanned a season-high seven hitters - the most by a Naturals' reliever this season - over three and one-third innings, allowed one run on three hits.
In the night cap, a lead-off home run by Tulsa shortstop, Errol Robinson, off starter, Luis Lugo (1-2, 4.37 ERA) proved to be the difference in the one-run game. Lugo settled in and retired nine of the next 10 batters and struck out a season-high seven hitters over four and one-third innings in the game.
Andres Machado worked one and two-third innings and extended his earned-run scoreless inning streak to 16.2 frames.
Northwest Arkansas (67-68/32-33) finished 0-for-5 with men in scoring position in second game of the double-header and stranded six men on base, despite out-hitting the Driller five to three in the contest.
The Naturals enter action tomorrow night four and one-half games behind the Drillers with five games remaining in the regular season and will need to win-out the remainder of the regular season.
Right-hander, Jace Vines (3-3, 6.88 ERA) will take the ball for Northwest Arkansas against one of the top Dodgers prospects, right-hander, Tony Gonsolin (6-0, 1.93 ERA) for the Drillers.
Join the Voice of the Naturals, Benjamin Kelly, with a 6:45 Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to the 7:05 p.m. first pitch on the flagship station of the Naturals, 92.1-FM, the Ticket and across the Naturals' Radio Network.
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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