Seven-Run Fourth Secures Naturals Win
SPRINGDALE, Ark - In need of a win after a long road trip in Texas, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (4-13, 39-48) used a seven-run fourth inning to secure a 9-5 series opening win over the Tulsa Drillers (13-5, 47-41) at Arvest Ballpark on Wednesday night.
Trailing 4-0 and looking for an offensive spark, the Naturals turned to the hot-hitting Alex Liddi to begin the fourth. The 29-year-old veteran slugger provided just that as he launched a 412 foot solo home run to right-center, his team-leading 15th home run, for his fourth big fly in his last three games and fifth in his last seven. Kelvin Gutierrez, Nick Dini and Khalil Lee each had run-scoring singles while Jecksson Flores and Elier Hernandez had RBI doubles in the seven-run frame. Hernandez had himself an inning as the Naturals' outfielder had two of his team-high four hits - a single and double - in the fourth inning alone.
Northwest Arkansas would add some insurance in the seventh. Hernandez doubled for the second time in the game and was driven home by Kort Peterson while Anderson Miller would complete the Naturals' scoring with a RBI groundout to shortstop.
Will Smith of the Drillers capped the offense with a solo shot, his 16th of the year, in the eighth to set the final score at 9-5.
It looked like it might be a long night for Northwest Arkansas as Tulsa raced out to an early 4-0 lead in the first. The big hits in the inning came off the bats of Smith and Jacob Scavuzzo as they each tallied a two-run double during the four run frame.
Northwest Arkansas out-hit Tulsa by a 12-to-10 margin with Hernandez and Gutierrez leading the way with multi-hit efforts.
After the early runs, the Naturals pitching staff settled in and limited the high-powered Driller attack to just a single tally the rest of the way. Starter Arnaldo Hernandez (W, 1-0) earned his first career Double-A win as he gave up four runs on seven hits and struck out six in 5.0 innings of work. The bullpen duo of Andres Machado (H, 2) and Franco Terrero worked the final 4.0 frames, giving up the lone run on the homer in the eighth, in the win to snap Northwest Arkansas' three-game losing streak.
Isaac Anderson (L, 0-1) made his first Double-A start of 2018 for Tulsa and did not last through the fourth. The right-hander worked a total of 3.1 innings on Wednesday night and was credited with the defeat after giving up six runs on seven hits.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their 4-game series against the Tulsa Drillers, the Double-A Affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Game 2 tomorrow night - Thursday, July 12 - with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Gates will open at 6:00 p.m. for a Thirsty Thursday at Arvest Ballpark. The Naturals will give the ball to LHP Emilio Ogando (5-5, 6.23 ERA) while the Drillers will counter with RHP Mitchell White (1-4, 6.24 ERA). Catch all of the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket starting at 6:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading to first pitch.
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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Texas League Stories from July 12, 2018
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