RockHounds Rally, Fall to Naturals on Walk Off

By Bob Hards / Midland RockHounds | May 7, 2019 9:35 AM

NW Arkansas Naturals 3, RockHounds 2                                                                

Monday, May 6, 2019

Arvest Ballpark           Springdale, AR


For the second time in just a few days in the road trip, we have seen another example of why "The Book" is not available in stores.


With the game tied, 2-2, a runner on first and two out in the last of the ninth, the RockHounds went "by the book" - - outfielders playing deep to keep the ball in front of them. The purpose being to prevent the runner from scoring from first base and that makes sense, except that's exactly what happened as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals edged the 'Hounds, 3-2, at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Arkansas, Monday night.


Emmanuel Rivera's sinking line drive to right just got under the glove of Chase Calabuig as the right fielder charged in, attempting to make a sliding, inning-ending catch. Gabriel Cancel came around to score the game-winning run to, shall we say, "close the book" on a 3-2 Naturals win.


Samir Dueñez gave Northwest Arkansas a 2-0 lead on his first home run of the season, a two-run blast to right off Logan Verrett in the fourth with Rivera setting the table with a key two-out single (see below). Verrett then retired 12-of-the-next-13 hitters he faced to keep the RockHounds close.


Naturals starter J.C. Cloney made his Double-A debut and was outstanding. The former University of Arizona star went six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and no walks. He largely pitched to contact, and did so very effectively, striking out three.


The 'Hounds got to reliever Andres Sotillet in the seventh. Calabuig led off with his third hit of the game, a single to center, and Mikey White followed with a walk. Jonah Heim's RBI single closed the gap to 2-1 and the Nate Mondou's single loaded the bases.   Edwin Diaz then sent a sharp line drive to center, but the ball hung up enough to be caught by Blake Perkins. Kevin Merrell's fly ball to the track in right-center then tied the game before Brallan Perez bounced out to third to end the inning.


The 'Hounds had a great chance in the eighth with Luis Barrera's single and a walk to Dairon Blanco putting two on with no outs. Ironically enough, Calabuig (who went 3-for-4) then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and White fouled out to left. The missed opportunity left the door open for Northwest Arkansas and the Naturals (and "The Book") took advantage of the opportunity.


The RockHounds are now 2-4 with Tuesday morning's series finale remaining on a (rain-shortened) seven-game road trip.


The Bloop Before the Blast

Samir Dueñez' two-run home run was a key swing, but it wouldn't have come to be without a great at bat from Emmanuel Rivera. With two out, he made just enough contact on an 0-2 pitch from Logan Verrett to send a "duck snort" into shallow center. On the very next pitch, Dueñez broke the scoreless tie with his blast to right.


Kevin Merrell's game-tying sac fly in the eighth also came on a plate appearance that started 0-2.



Chase Calabuig has now reached base in 13-of-14 games in which he has at least one plate appearance and is hitting .370 (with 14 walks against seven strikeouts) with 11 RBI.


Jonah Heim (1-for-4, RBI) has hits in 14-of-16 games (.300) and has reached base in 17-of-19 games (.306)


After going 1-13 in their first 14 road games in 2019, Springfield has now won back-to-back games at Frisco, shutting out the RoughRiders, 5-0, Monday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Corpus Christi fell, 6-1, at Tulsa (on a two-hitter and a pair of Gavin Lux home runs late), so the top of the South Division standings didn't budge (Amarillo gained a half-game when the Sod Poodles were rained out at home against Arkansas).   Frisco (18-13) leads the RockHounds (16-14) by a game-and-a-half … Corpus (14-16) by three-and-a-half and Amarillo (13-17) by four-and-half games.


The RockHounds and Frisco meet in a four-game series at Security Bank Ballpark beginning Thursday.


Next Game

Tuesday, May 7          vs. NW Arkansas Naturals

Arvest Ballpark           Springdale, Arkansas

First pitch 11:05 a.m.

- Final of a four-game series and of an eight-game (seven-day) road trip

- Radio: No broadcast

Probable Starters

NWA:                    Conner Greene     (RH,    2-2, 3.24)

RH: Matt Milburn (RH,          1-1, 4.33)


Next at Security Bank Ballpark:

The RockHounds host the Frisco RoughRiders in a "four-day weekend" at Rocky Town, May 9-12:

Thirsty Thursday (May 9) ... RockHounds Beach Towels (Friday, May 10)

Fireworks (Saturday, May 11) ...        Family Day (Sunday, May 12 at 2:00 p.m.)

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

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