Tucker, Teammates Trounce Naturals

By Corpus Christi Hooks | May 31, 2014 11:41 PM ET

CORPUS CHRISTI - Preston Tucker homered twice and doubled to power Corpus Christi past Northwest Arkansas 11-2 Saturday night at Whataburger Field before 5,454.

Tucker's first multiple-home run performance of the season ran his Texas League-leading RBI total to 36. His 13 round-trippers also top the TL.

The former Florida Gator's feats pushed Travis Ballew (3-1) into the winner's circle. Tucker, who greeted Ali Williams with a solo shot to left in the seventh, went deep the other way for two in the first and doubled two innings later. He finished with four hits.

Delino DeShields, Jr., and Rene Garcia also homered for Corpus Christi (29-26). Nolan Fontana and Jonathan Meyer produced back-to-back RBI doubles against Matt Murray in the eighth. Murray also walked Leo Heras with the bases loaded.

The Naturals (18-36) have dropped five straight and 11 of 13.

Northwest Arkansas took a 1-0 first-inning lead. Whit Merrifield singled to open the contest and advanced two bases on Orlando Calixte's soft liner into right field. Cheslor Cuthbert then bounced into a 6-4-3 double play, enabling Merrifield's homeward passage.

The visitors' advantage didn't last long. Tucker's 12th home run of 2014 - a two-out missile onto the right-center field berm off Sam Selman - put the Hooks up 2-1. Fontana witnessed the bomb from first, having drawn his 41st walk.

Tucker's 16th two-base hit helped stage a bases-loaded third for Corpus Christi. Selman recovered by recording his sixth strikeout of the night, catching Garcia with a 90-MPH offering on the inside corner.

Selman was removed just two outs later, the victim of a high pitch count. He issued consecutive walks to DeShields, Jr., and Fontana, prompting a call to the bullpen for Cody Fassold (1-2). Selman was charged with four hits, walked four and struck out seven. Sixty-two of his 97 pitches found the strike zone.

His teammates hung a second run on Hooks starter Jordan Jankowski during the fifth, Mark Threlkeld's lead-off double followed by a Micah Gibbs single and Edinson Rincon sacrifice fly.

Jankowski lasted five innings and 77 pitches (54), booking five hits, a walk and five strikeouts.

DeShields' fifth home run was a screaming two-out liner off Fassold that struck a Goodwill Zone rocking chair in the sixth. Joe Sclafani (one-out single) crossed ahead of DeShields for the tie-breaker.

The series and homestand finale unfolds at 6:10 Sunday when Corpus Christi's Kyle Smith (2-2) faces Andy Ferguson (2-5). It's H-E-B Kids Day, so all children run the bases postgame.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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