The RockHounds and Northwest Arkansas Naturals played in the Texas League Championship Series in back-to-back seasons (2009 and 2010). The RockHounds won the '09 title, with the deciding game played at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Arkansas. The Naturals won the crown the following year, popping the champagne corks at Citibank Ballpark. They're still backwards.
The 'Hounds swept the first series of the 2013 season, winning three games at Springdale. Saturday night, the Naturals defeated the 'Hounds, 4-1, taking two-of-three at Rocky Town.
Northwest Arkansas got a "quality start" from 21-year-old prospect Yordano Ventura, then took command with a three-run sixth inning, building a 4-0 lead. Reliever Brooks Pounders "bent but didn't break," allowing six hits in three innings, but giving up just one run.
Ventura, rated the third-best prospect in the Kansas City Royals' organization, went 5.0 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out seven (Naturals pitchers struck out 13 batters). His fastball, which has been clocked at 102 miles per hour, hit 97 on the in-stadium gun on a breezy, cool night.
The Naturals' Angel Franco, who entered the game batting a Texas League best .440, went 2-for-4 with a critical two-run single, raising his average to .448.
The RockHounds actually out-hit Northwest Arkansas, 10-6, but missed scoring chances, particularly in the sixth and eighth innings against Pounders. The 'Hounds scored a run in the sixth and had runners at second and third with no outs, but failed to score beyond the single run. They later had runners at second and third with one out in the eighth, but came up empty.
While Northwest Arkansas scored only one unearned run, the 'Hounds hurt their own cause by committing four errors.
Kibbles & Bits
- The South Division's other three teams won Saturday night, with Corpus Christi (7-2) regaining a one-game lead over the RockHounds. San Antonio and Frisco stayed two games back at 5-4.
Line Score R H E LOB
NW Arkansas Naturals 4 6 0 7
RockHounds 1 10 4 11
WP Yordano Ventura (1-0, 1.80)
LP Carlos Hernandez (1-1, 2.61)
Sv Nick Rogers (1, 4.50)
vs. Arkansas Travelers (LA Angels' AA Affiliate)
Sunday, April 14 4:00 p.m. Radio at 3:50 p.m.
At Citibank Ballpark
Arkansas (RH) Matt Oye (0-1, 1.80)
RockHounds (RH) Murphy Smith (1-1, 0.82)