SPRINGDALE, Ark - First baseman Samir Duenez clubbed a two-run home run but it was not enough as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (18-29/57-60) fall in the series finale to the Midland RockHounds (21-26/56-61) by a 4-2 final on Thursday night. Despite the loss, the Naturals earned the series win and have now won two consecutive series at Arvest Ballpark.
With the Naturals offense looking for a spark against RHP Grant Holmes of the RockHounds, the heart of the Northwest Arkansas order was there to deliver with two outs in the sixth. Paulo Orlando collected a single and then Duenez, the Naturals' power-hitting lefty, found himself in a 0-2 hole before launching the very next pitch over the wall in right for a two-run homer to cut the deficit to 4-2. On the season, he continues to lead the team in home runs (16), RBIs (69), and runs scored (60).
The two runs in the home half of the sixth proved to be the last runs scored in the ballgame as the bullpens from each team took control. LHP Tim Hill emerged from the Naturals bullpen in relief of RHP Corey Ray (L, 6-10) and kept his team within striking distance as he struck out four in 3.2 scoreless innings but the Midland combination of LHP Brandon Mann (H, 3), Tyler Sturdevant (H, 1), and RHP Sam Bragg (S, 4) was too much as they shut down the Naturals to preserve the 4-2 victory.
Holmes (W, 9-11) earned the win for the Double-A Oakland A's as he twirled 5.2 innings of two-run ball with eight strikeouts.
The game began as a pitcher's duel and remained scoreless into the fourth when the RockHounds broke through with a run. Midland shortstop Jorge Mateo , recently traded to Oakland from the New York Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal, walked to begin the frame and immediately stole second and then swiped third before scoring on a RBI groundout by Max Schrock .
The RockHounds would go on to add to their advantage with another tally in the fifth and then two more runs in the sixth. Tyler Ramirez had a one-out single to right and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Sean Murphy brought him home with a base hit to extend the lead to 2-0. In the sixth, Schrock worked a walk then advanced to third on a double by Viosergy Rosa . Midland would plate the runners with a sacrifice fly by Jermaine Curtis and a single by Ramirez to complete the two-run frame.
Northwest Arkansas collected six hits on the night with Mauricio Ramos recording the lone multi-hit game by going 2-for-4.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their current 6-game homestand tomorrow night - Friday, August 11 - by welcoming the Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A Texas Rangers) to Arvest Ballpark for a 3-game series. The weekend of games begin with our final Faith and Family Night of the year that will feature a pre-game concert by Micah Tyler and a post-game Fireworks Spectacular presented by Sam's Furniture. The Naturals send RHP Zach Lovvorn (4-5, 4.72 ERA) to the mound in the series opener and he'll be opposed by LHP Yohander Mendez (7-7, 3.86 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 6:55 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch at 7:15 p.m. against the Double-A Texas Rangers.
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.