SAN ANTONIO - Starter, Christian Binford twirled 6.0 innings of one-run baseball and retired the final 12 batters faced as the Naturals salvaged the series finale against San Antonio, 2-1, on Saturday night at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium. Binford and the Naturals' bullpen held the Missions hitless over the final seven and two-third innings in the victory.
Northwest Arkansas (3-6) opened the scoring in the first inning with Donnie Dewees leading off the game with a single into centerfield off San Antonio starter, Brett Kennedy. Dewees moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored two batters later when Frank Schwindel laced a single into leftfield to give the Naturals a 1-0 lead. It marked the second time in the series against the Missions which the Naturals scored first.
Binford (1-0, 2.25) worked around a two-out single in the first inning, but San Antonio (6-3) equalized the score at 1-1 in the second inning. Arguably the biggest play of the night for Binford came after he struck out Auston Bousfield with no outs and the bases loaded in the second inning. The right-hander induced a ground ball to first basemen, Schwindel who fired to shortstop, Humberto Arteaga covering at second base for the force. Arteaga relayed the throw back to first base where Binford covered to complete the double-play.
Following a walk to begin the third frame, Binford retired the final 12 batter he faced en route to a 6.0 innings, one-run performance with four strikeouts and a pair of walks, scattering three hits in the victorious decision.
Northwest Arkansas could not crack Missions starter, Kennedy; but following his departure after the sixth, the Naturals jumped reliever, Adam Cimber in the seventh. Outfielder, Terrance Gore doubled down the rightfield line and stole third base - his first theft of the year. Gore scored on a perfectly placed bunt single by Jack Lopez to plate the go-ahead a run.
Left-hander, Sam Selman pitched the seventh and eighth innings for the Naturals, striking out the side in his first inning and punching out a pair in the eighth. Selman left for right-hander Evan Beal in the eighth inning after he struck out Noah Perio, but the Missions hitter was able to reach on the wild pitch. Beal struck out Nick Schulz on a 3-2 slider, down and away to keep San Antonio quiet in the eighth.
Beal worked a scoreless ninth inning to notch his first save of the season and earn the Naturals the victory.
Schwindel led the offense with a 2-for-4 night, driving in his team-leading eighth run of the season as the Naturals out-hit the Missions, 6-3 on the night.
Northwest Arkansas heads south to Corpus Christi, Texas to begin a three-game set against the Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros) on Easter Sunday with a 3:05 p.m. first pitch. Right-hander, Corey Ray (0-1, 3.60) will make his second start of the season against the Hooks', Brock Dykxhoorn (0-0, 4.50).
Join Benjamin Kelly with a 2:45 Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch on the sister-station of the flagship for the Naturals, AM-1590, the Ticket-2.
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.