SPRINGDALE, Ark - The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (10-10, 49-41) mounted a rally by scoring two runs in the ninth inning but the comeback would ultimately fall short in a 5-4 loss to the Tulsa Drillers (13-7, 46-44) on Thursday night at Arvest Ballpark.
In a 3-2 game in the seventh, the Tulsa Drillers gave themselves some much needed insurance with two runs. Matt Beaty started things off with a one-out single and advanced to second on a walk to Peter O'Brien . The hot-hitting Jose Fernandez delivered a key run-scoring single before Erick Mejia brought home O'Brien with a sacrifice fly to give the Drillers a 5-2 lead.
Facing their final three outs is when Northwest Arkansas would mount a final charge. Samir Duenez led off the final frame with a walk and then advanced to second on an infield single by Zach Walters . After a groundout moved the runners to second and third, Humberto Arteaga delivered a two-run single up the middle to cut it to a one run game at 5-4. RHP Corey Copping (S, 8) of Tulsa though would respond by striking out the next batter and getting Alfredo Escalera to ground out to end the game.
Northwest Arkansas scored first again on Thursday night as they plated a run in the opening frame. Nicky Lopez singled and advanced to second on a single by Duenez. After a force out by Walters moved the runners to second and third, Anderson Miller delivered a two-out single to give the Naturals an early 1-0 advantage. The lead would be short-lived as Tulsa would take a 2-1 lead with two runs in the second courtesy of back-to-back RBI doubles by Mejia and Garrett Kennedy .
The game remained 2-1 into the fifth before the Drillers extended their lead to 3-1. Errol Robinson singled, stole second, and moved to third on a groundout by Henry Ramos before Beaty brought him home with a run-scoring single. The Naturals would cut into the lead in the home half as Donnie Dewees, Jr. led off with a double and scored on a Nick Dini RBI double.
RHP Josh Staumont , the Kansas City Royals top prospect entering the season according to Baseball America, got the starting nod in his first appearance for the Naturals since posting a 2-1 record with a 3.04 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 50.1 innings pitched during the stretch run of the 2016 season. After struggling recently in Triple-A Omaha, Staumont kept Northwest Arkansas in the game through the early going as he gave up two runs on six hits in 3.2 innings pitched to go along with three strikeouts.
The Northwest Arkansas bullpen worked the final 5.1 innings on Thursday and gave up three runs on six hits. Meanwhile, RHP Andrew Sopko (W, 2-4) picked up the win for the Double-A Dodgers as the righty gave up two runs over 7.0 innings of work.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their 4-game homestand with Game 3 of this 4-game set against the Tulsa Drillers (Double-A Los Angeles Dodgers) tomorrow night - Friday, July 14 - with first pitch at Arvest Ballpark scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Friday night features a Post-Game Fireworks Spectacular with Songs of Summer by Snyder's-Lance, Special Appearance by Marshall of Nickelodeon's Paw Patrol. The Naturals will send LHP Emilio Ogando (6-6, 3.54 ERA) to the bump and he'll be opposed by RHP Josh Sborz (4-6, 4.36 ERA) of the Drillers. 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 6:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show.
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.