TULSA, Okla. - The Drillers struck the final blow with six runs in the eighth inning in the back-and-forth Game 4 of the North Division Championship Series on Saturday night in the 16-8 loss for the Naturals at ONEOK Field. The two clubs combined for 24 runs on 31 hits and are set up for a winner-take-all Game 5 on Sunday night from downtown Tulsa.
Northwest Arkansas (2-2) jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Samir Duenez singled home the first run in the third inning and scored from first base on a double down the leftfield line by Mauricio Ramos to take a 2-0 lead. Jack Lopez struck for a two-run single in the fourth inning with two outs to extend the Naturals advantage to 4-0.
Tulsa (2-2) pulled within a 4-2 margin in the bottom of the fourth inning before the Drillers sent 11 men to bat in the fifth and scored six runs to jump out to an 8-4 lead after five innings.
Donnie Dewees led off the ensuing top half of the sixth inning with an infield single by reliever, Andrew Sopko and moved to second after Sopko plunked Jack Lopez on an 0-2 pitch. Both men moved into scoring positon after a wild pitch and Duenez drove home his second run of the night - fifth of the postseason - with a sharp single to rightfield, moving the Naturals within an 8-5 deficit.
Ryan O'Hearn took Sopko yard on a 3-1 pitch with both Lopez and Duenez aboard to tie the game in the sixth inning at 8-8.
Tulsa countered with a two-run double by Blake Gailen in the home half of the frame and proceeded to score six more runs in the eighth inning en route to the Game 4 loss for the Naturals.
The 18 hits allowed by Northwest Arkansas the most surrendered by a Naturals' club in the postseason with the three-hour and 41 minute game, it matches the longest postseason game in franchise history.
Northwest Arkansas looks to capture the club's third straight North Division title in a deciding Game 5 on Sunday, Sept. 10 at ONEOK Field with right-hander, Corey Ray slated to make his first start of the postseason. Right-hander, Dennis Santana will counter for the Drillers.
The winner will head to the Texas League Championship Series to face-off against either Midland or San Antonio who will play Game 5 of the South Division Championship Series in San Antonio, Texas following the RockHounds comeback win at Security Bank Ballpark on Saturday night.
Join the Voice of the Naturals, Benjamin Kelly, for a 5:45 p.m. pregame show, leading up to the 6:05 p.m. first pitch from ONEOK Field 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.