SPRINGDALE, Ark - Tied at 1-1, Samir Duenez hit his 17th home run of the season as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (19-29/58-60) claimed the series opener over the Frisco RoughRiders (20-28/51-67) by a 2-1 final on Friday night at Arvest Ballpark. The victory in front of a crowd of 5,887 gives Northwest Arkansas a 3-1 record on this current 6-game homestand.
Looking for one big swing of the bat, the Naturals had to look no further than their most consistent power threat all season long. Duenez, hitting cleanup tonight, stepped the plate in the sixth and launched a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right field for a go ahead solo home run. The homer proved to be the difference as the Naturals took a 2-1 advantage at the time and held it until the end. The 21-year old, sweet swinging lefty continues to lead the team with 17 home runs and 70 RBI on the season.
The Naturals fell behind after Frisco got on the board in the third courtesy of a solo home run off the bat of Luis Marte to take a 1-0 lead. The Naturals though would claw back in the fourth as Hunter Dozier doubled to left-center to begin the frame. He moved to third on a balk by reliever RHP Pedro Payano then scored on a RBI groundout by Mauricio Ramos to even the game.
The game was very evenly matched and for the most part a pitching duel throughout. Both teams relied on three pitchers during the course of the ballgame and each team was held to six hits, including a solo home run on both sides.
RHP Zach Lovvorn made his 14th start of the season and his 27th overall appearance for Northwest Arkansas and was solid throughout. The righty struck out three through 5.1 innings of one-run ball where limited the RoughRiders to only five hits.
Frisco started LHP Yohander Mendez , whom was activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, and he was nearly unhittable through his 2.0 innings of work as the Venezuelan left-hander limited the Naturals to just a single hit while striking out three.
After each starter exited, the battle of the bullpens ensued. LHP Matt Tenuta (W, 3-2) was fantastic for the Naturals as he twirled 2.2 scoreless innings of relief to earn the win while RHP Andrew Edwards (S, 3) worked a perfect ninth for his third save. For the RoughRiders, Payano (L, 2-4) piggy-backed Mendez and went 5.0 complete giving up two runs to take the loss.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their current 6-game homestand with Game 2 of this 3-game set against the Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A Texas Rangers) tomorrow night - Saturday, August 12 - at Arvest Ballpark. Saturday night features an Arvest Ballpark Replica Giveaway by Arvest Bank as well as a Bullpen Craft Beer Bar Happy Hour from 4:35 p.m. until 5:35 p.m. The Naturals send LHP Foster Griffin (8-4, 3.62 ERA), a former first round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals, to the hill and he'll be opposed by RHP Richelson Pena (1-0, 1.50 ERA) of the RoughRiders. Catch all of the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket, your home for Naturals baseball, at 5:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch at 6:05 p.m. against the Double-A Texas Rangers at Arvest Ballpark.
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.