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Schwindel helps Naturals turn triple play

Royals prospect keys rare feat in seventh, delivers winning hit in 11th
Frank Schwindel is batting .271 with 20 homers and 65 RBIs in 115 games with Northwest Arkansas. Shane Roper/
August 31, 2016

Wednesday was a good night at the ballpark for Frank Schwindel.

The Royals prospect helped Double-A Northwest Arkansas turn its first triple play in five years, then ripped a walk-off single in the 11th inning to give the Naturals a 5-4 win over Tulsa at Arvest Ballpark.

The seventh inning began with Daniel Stumpf taking over for Northwest Arkansas starter Josh Staumont. Stumpf hit Tyler Ogle with a pitch, then surrendered a single to fourth-ranked Dodgers prospect Willie Calhoun. With his team leading, 4-3, and speedy Drillers shortstop Tim Locastro stepping in, Schwindel suspected a bunt might be coming. Sure enough, Locastro bunted Stumpf's first pitch foul up the first base line.

"After the first one, [Locastro] looked a little shaky," Schwindel said. "We had Stumpf on the mound throwing hard, and he makes hitters uncomfortable. I cheated in a little more on the second one, looking to make a play right there."

The 24-year-old's hunch proved correct. Locastro squared around again on Stumpf's next pitch and sent the ball in the air toward Schwindel. The first baseman lunged and made a diving catch before leaping to his feet and turning toward second. But his teammates quickly changed his mind.

"My first thought was to throw to second, but everyone was screaming, 'One, one, one,'" Schwindel said. "So I went to first and flipped it to [second baseman Corey Toups] real quick. I didn't think we'd have a chance at three."

The New Jersey native watched as Toups threw a rainbow to shortstop Humberto Arteaga at second, easily nabbing Ogle to complete the triple play, the first by the Naturals since they helped secure a no-hitter on July 20, 2011.

"I heard some cheers and everyone was fired up in the dugout," Schwindel said. "Triple plays don't come around often. Stumpf was fired up. I think that definitely gave us some momentum."

Tulsa tied the game an inning later on Joey Curletta's RBI single off Stumpf and the game remained tied, 4-4, until the bottom of the 11th.

Drillers right-hander Scott Griggs (0-2) gave up back-to-back one-out singles to Alfredo Escalara and Mauricio Ramos, then intentionally walked Royals No. 8 prospect Ryan O'Hearn to load the bases. From the on-deck circle, Schwindel bristled as he watched the free pass.

"They walked O'Hearn to get to me -- that's something you take personally," he said. "That's when you really want to execute there."

Schwindel jumped on the first pitch and slashed it up the middle to bring in Escalara with the winning run.

"That was awesome. … I just tried to keep it simple and stay up the middle," Schwindel said. "I got a pitch inside and just ripped it up the middle."

Samir Duenez finished 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI for Northwest Arkansas, while Arteaga doubled twice and plated two runs.

Fifth-ranked Royals prospect Miguel Almonte (2-1) got the win after tossing a perfect 11th.

Alex Kraft is a contributor to Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21.