SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -Randy Arozarena, ended a four-hour and eight-minute marathon in devastating fashion for the Naturals. The Springfield outfielder slugged a 3-1 pitch over the left-field wall to end the game in 12 innings by an 8-7 final score on Saturday night at Hammons Field. It marked the first walk-off home run against Northwest Arkansas this season.
In the back-and-forth affair, the Naturals (55-58/16-27) struck first against Cardinals' starter, Zac Gallen . After Paulo Orlando coaxed a one-out walk in the top of the first inning, Samir Duenez , hit a towering, fly-ball home run over the right-field wall against a vicious cross-wind to vault the Naturals in front 2-0.
Duenez tied the game in the third inning, after the Cardinals captured a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the first, with his second home run of the evening. The 21-year old prospect punched a Gallen fastball over the leftfield wall - the opposite field - and tied the game at 3-3.
The Naturals regained the advantage later in the third after Mauricio Ramos bounced a pitch to third base. The ball was fielded by third-baseman, Jacob Wilson , but thrown away to allow Donnie Dewees to score from second base. Ramos came around to score on a run-scoring single by Anderson Miller , capping off the three-run frame and giving the Naturals a 5-3.
Springfield tied the game at 5-5 in the fourth inning; but the Naturals scored twice in the sixth to take a 7-5 advantage. The Cardinals again tied the score in the eighth inning on a two-out, two-strike single by back-up catcher, Jesse Jenner and the deadlock held through 11 full frames.
Starter, Corey Ray , worked 5.0 innings, allowed five runs on eight hits with one strikeout in his 23rd start of the season. The bullpen combined to pitch six-plus innings of two-run relief between three left-handers, Matt Tenuta, Richard Lovelady and 2.2 innings fromTim Hill . Right-hander, Mark Peterson (0-1, 2.70) worked the final 1.2 innings.
The Naturals pounded out a season-high 18 with just three extra-base knocks. Duenez finished 3-for-6 on the evening with a pair of home runs, giving him 15 on the season - good for a new career-best. Duenez hit 13 between three levels during 2016. The 21-year old now has 67 RBIs - the most he's recorded at any single level in one year; he tabbed 100 in three levels in 2016.
Five different Naturals recorded two-or-more hits in the game with Dewees collecting three hits including his 21st double on the year.
The loss marks the 12th consecutive road loss for the Naturals, setting a new franchise record.
The Naturals conclude the four-game series on Sunday evening at Hammons Field with a 6:10 p.m. first pitch. Left-hander, Foster Griffin (8-3, 3.33) will make his 14th start of the season for the Naturals against right-hander, Ryan Helsley (0-0, 2.25) takes the hill for the Cardinals.
Join the Voice of the Naturals, Benjamin Kelly, for a 5:50 p.m. pregame show leading up to first pitch on the flagship station of the Naturals, 92.1-FM, the Ticket.
Follow the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Facebook and Twitter @NWANaturals all throughout the year by using the hashtag #NaturalPastime and #CrowntoCrown for all of our up-to-date information on Season 10 of Naturals baseball.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark. For more information, including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.