North Little Rock - The Travelers defeated the Northwest Arkansas Naturals 7-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning on a fielder's choice on Sunday, June 26, at Dickey-Stephens Park. An announced crowd of 4,443 watched the Travs win their season-high sixth consecutive game.
Designated Chris Pettit drew a walk to begin the bottom of the 10th. Pettit advanced to second base on Gabe Jacobo's groundout to the pitcher Henry Barrera and the Naturals intentionally walked Luis Jimenez. With one out, right fielder Angel Castillo followed with a single to center that fell just in front of Derrick Robinson to load the bases. The next batter, catcher Alberto Rosario, grounded it to the third baseman Kurt Mertins, who stepped on third base and threw home, but the substitute catcher Ben Theriot didn't tag Pettit and no force play was in order when Mertins stepped on third, allowing the winning run to score.
The Travs (5-0) jumped on Naturals' starting pitcher Buddy Baumann in the bottom of the first inning when he walked two of the first three batters. After a double steal by Mike Trout and Pettit, first baseman Jacobo hit it to deep centerfield where the ball hit the top of Robinson's glove for a triple and a 2-0 Travs' lead.
Travs' third baseman Jimenez hit Baumann's next pitch to left field for a single to score Jacobo for a three-run lead. Jimenez reached second base on a wild pitch and scored when catcher Alberto Rosario hit a two-out single to right for a 4-0 lead.
The Naturals (1-4) would score six consecutive runs, starting in the top of the third when Robinson reached on a bunt single, stole second base and scored on Tim Smith's two-out single to right to make the score 4-1. Anthony Seratelli and Smith were successful in a double steal and Seratelli scored an unearned run when Rosario's throw sailed into centerfield, making the score 4-2.
Lefty Andrew Taylor started for the Travs and gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits, striking out four with four walks.
Naturals' first baseman Jamie Romak doubled to left field to start the top of the fourth and scored on Kurt Mertins single to right to make it a 4-3 Travs' lead. After Mertins was caught stealing at second base and Nick Van Stratten grounded out to third, Robinson picked up his third hit of the game. Taylor walked Jeff Bianchi and Wil Myers doubled to left field with two outs, scoring two to put the Naturals up 5-4.
Seratelli hit a one-out homerun to right field off of relief pitcher Eddie McKiernan in the top of the seventh inning to extend the Naturals' lead to 6-4.
The Travs responded in the bottom of the seventh when Rosario and Clay Fuller reached on infield singles and Trout hit a one-out RBI single to right field on an inside-out swing to get the Travs within 6-5. With two outs, Pettit scored Jon Townsend to tie the game 6-6 on a single that hit the top of the second baseman's glove and rolled into right field.
McKiernan (3-6, 5.77) pitched five innings of relief for the win, giving up one run, four hits and two walks, and striking out one. Barrera (0-1, 3.60) got the loss, giving up the winning run in an inning and two-thirds.
Rosario led the Travs with two hits, going 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Jacobo went 1 for 5 with two RBIs and Trout went 1 for 3 with and RBI, a run scored, and two stolen bases to push his Texas League total to 26.
Pettit went 1 for 1, walking three times and scoring two runs, and Jimenez went 1 for 4 with an RBI and run scored.
Robinson also had two stolen bases and is on Trout's heels in the stolen base department with 25. He also had a season-high four hits, going 4 for 5 and scoring two runs. Myers went 1 for 3 with two RBIs and two walks.
The Naturals outhit the Travs 11-8, but hit only 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. The Travs were 6 for 11 with RISP and left seven men on base in a game that lasted three hours and 26 minutes.
The Travs look to make it seven in a row in the series finale against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Monday afternoon, June 27, at Dickey-Stephens Park. Orangel Arenas (7-3, 3.87) gets the start for the Travs and lefty Will Smith (5-6, 4.58) will start for the Naturals.
Arenas last pitched on June 22 and got the win. He gave up five runs on 12 hits in six innings against Springfield. He struck out four without a walk. Smith also pitched on June 22 and got the win against Tulsa. He pitched six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out three. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. and gates open at noon.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.