Springdale, AR - The Tulsa Drillers three-game winning streak came to end Wednesday night in the first game of a four-game road series at Northwest Arkansas. The Drillers could not hold an early lead as the Naturals rallied from a three-run deficit with six straight runs to post a 7-4 lead.
Despite the defeat, the first-place Drillers retained their two-game lead atop the North Division standings of the Texas League.
Northwest Arkansas struck first in Wednesday's opener with a run in the bottom of the first inning, but Tulsa went in front with a four-run second. With one out, Matt Beaty singled in front of Quincy Latimore's second homer since joining the Drillers. One out later, Erick Mejia singled and Tim Locastro followed with his sixth home run to put the Drillers in front 4-1.
The Naturals used a pair of two-run rallies to erase the Tulsa lead. The first came in the bottom of the third when Nicky Lopez and Samir Duenez opened the inning with consecutive singles off Drillers starting pitcher Chris Rearick. Both, Lopez and Duenez scored later in the inning to trim the Drillers lead to one.
In the fourth, Logan Moon and Jack Lopez drew consecutive walks off Andrew Thurman to open the inning. The walks would prove costly to the Drillers reliever as both runners would score on a a throwing error by Mejia, giving the Naturals a 5-4 lead.
It remained a one-run game until Duenez ended any hopes of a Drillers comeback in the bottom of the eighth. Duenez blasted a two-run homer, his 12th of the year, off Ralston Cash to up the Naturals lead to 7-4.
Northwest Arkansas closer Jake Newberry closed the game out with a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 14th save of the season.
The Drillers finished with nine hits, including two each from Mejia and Henry Ramos. For Ramos, the two hits raised his average to .568 since joining Tulsa three weeks ago.
Duenez led the Naturals with two hits, two runs scored and four runs batted in.
The two teams return to action Thursday night at Springdale's Arvest Ballpark, and Andrew Sopko (1-4, 3.51 ERA) will take the mound for the Drillers. Josh Staumont (3-8, 6.28 ERA at AAA Omaha) will make his first appearance this season for Northwest Arkansas. Starting time is slated for 7:05PM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.