NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Naturals' outfielder, Alfredo Escalera collected his third hit of the ballgame while driving home his second RBI of the contest in the eighth inning to push the Naturals to a 2-0 lead. However, the Travelers possessed other thoughts. Arkansas outfielder, Willie Argo stepped to the plate in the last of the eighth inning and hit a 2-2 pitch with the bases loaded over the leftfield fence, vaulting the Travelers to a 4-2 winon Monday afternoon at Dickey-Stephens Park.
Right-hander, Corey Ray , made his 29th start of the season, making him the franchise's all-time single-season leader in starts, surpassing Julio Pimentel who posted 28 starts in 2008. Ray fired 5.0 innings of two-hit, shutout baseball and surrendered four walks against four strikeouts to lower his season-ending ERA to 5.41 on the season.
The Naturals supplied some offense in the third inning against Arkansas' ace right-hander, Lindsey Caughel . Second baseman, Humberto Arteaga led-off the third with a single and scored two batters later from second base on Escalera's double down the right-field line, giving the Naturals a 1-0 lead.
Ray, along with relievers, Walker Sheller and Tim Hill protected the lead with scoreless sixth and seventh innings before Escalera tacked on his second double - third hit - of the afternoon with a run-scoring knock down the leftfield line in the eighth.
Hill got the first batter out in the bottom of the eighth inning before Yunior Marte entered. Marte (1-2, 5.75) walked his first batter, struck out the second for the second out of the inning and proceeded to allow a single and a walk to load the bases for Argo who cleared the bags with a grand slam.
Northwest Arkansas finishes the regular season with a 67-73 overall record, good for third-best in the Texas League North Division overall standings. The Naturals completed the final regular-season road trip with a 2-5 mark.
The Texas League North Division Championship Series is set to begin at Arvest Ballpark on Wednesday, September 6th against the Second Half Champion, Tulsa Drillers (Los Angeles Dodgers) with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.
Neither the Naturals nor the Drillers have announced probable starting pitchers for the best-of-five game series.
Join the Voice of the Naturals, Benjamin Kelly¸ on Wednesday, September 6th with a 6:45 p.m. Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to the 7:05 p.m. first pitch of the Texas League North Division Championship Series 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.