SPRINGDALE, ARK. - The Arkansas Travelers exploded for six runs in the 11th inning to secure a 12-6 victory over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Tuesday night at Arvest Ballpark. Michael Bianucci's double drove in the winning run, but the high point was the club's first grand slam of the season hit by Adam Melker (4).
The victory evens the Travs' record on a road trip now at 3-3, while it also pushes their lead in the Texas League North Division to two games over Tulsa and the Naturals. Their second half record stands at 17-15, while their overall record is back at .500 with a 51-51 mark.
Two big innings highlighted the night including a five-run rally in the sixth inning for the Travs' second lead of the night. Aside from Melker, Matt Long (1) and Mike Snyder (2) also hit home runs.
After leaving the bases loaded in the ninth inning and being retired in order in the 10th inning by Ali Williams, the Travs got a leadoff walk from Alex Yarbrough in the 11th. Brian Hernandez fell behind 1-2 before serving a single to left field bringing Bianucci to the plate. He wasted no time in hammering Williams's first offering to the warning track in centerfield bringing home Yarbrough for a 7-6 lead. Long was intentionally walked to load the bases. After a fielder's choice that resulted in a force play at home plate, Kaleb Cowart drew a pinch-hit walk to force home Bianucci. Then Melker walloped the grand slam way over the right-field wall for a 12-6 lead.
Jairo Diaz earned the win (1-0) with two perfect relief innings Williams (4-2) took the loss, his first against the Travs in three decisions.
Yarbrough drove in two runs on the night on two base hits to increase his league-leading totals to 117 hits and 56 RBI.
With the Travs trailing 5-1 in the sixth inning, Long hit a leadoff homer off Tim Melville. Jett Bandy hit a single to left field, which Snyder followed with another home run to bring the Travs within a 5-4 score. Melville left the game with four runs charged on eight hits. Left hander Noel Arugelles entered and walked Melker before hitting Eric Stamets with a pitch. Maikol Gonzalez hit a bloop single to score Melker with the tying run. Then Yarbrough grounded an RBI single to center for a 6-5 Travs lead.
Carmine Giardina pitched the sixth inning and left Cheslor Cuthberth after a two-out triple when Hunter Dozier lined out to left field. Max Ramirez hit his third single off Giardina to lead off the Naturals' seventh inning. With two outs Trevor Gott relieved and moved Ramirez to second base with a wild pitch. then Justin Trapp lined a game-tying single to left field. The Travs caught Trapp off first base for the third out, and no more Naturals batters reached base.
Gott tossed two perfect relief innings before Diaz took over in the tenth.
Northwest Arkansas scored five runs off Buddy Boshers (three runs in 2.2 innings) and Kevin Johnson (two runs in two innings) to hold the lead after four innings.
The Travs are now 5-2 in extra innings including a 3-0 record in extras on the road.
Time of game was 4:10 and the paid attendance was 3,370.
Now the Travs look to take the series on Wednesday evening sending Kramer Sneed (6-7, 4.58) to the mound against Matt Murray (0-3, 4.72) at 7:05 p.m.