SPRINGDALE, Ark - Northwest Arkansas welcomed San Antonio to Arvest Ballpark to begin a 3-game series on Sunday afternoon but saw the Missions (3-1) race out to a quick lead to claim the series opener over the Naturals (1-3) by a 8-4 final.
Trailing 1-0 after a Michael Gettys leadoff homer to start the game, Northwest Arkansas answered back with a run of their own in the home half of the first. The Naturals used three consecutive singles combined with an error to plate their tally. Jecksson Flores got it started with a single up the middle while Erick Mejia followed suit. That brought up Samir Duenez and he chopped a ball to first for an infield single, which caused an errant throw that allowed Flores to come in to tie the ballgame at 1-1.
It was all Missions after that as the visitors would add two runs in the second on a Josh Naylor RBI single and a Fernando Tatis, Jr. sacrifice fly for a 3-1 advantage. Naylor was at it again in the fourth as the power-hitting lefty lifted a 2-0 pitch over the wall in right for a two-run homer for a 5-1 lead. Two doubles in the fifth contributed to another run before San Antonio would tack on two in the sixth to take a commanding 8-1 lead on a Tatis run-scoring single and a defensive miscue by the Naturals.
The Naturals would show some fight late as they'd plate three runs in the bottom of the ninth. Third baseman Corey Toups hit his first home run of the season while Erick Mejia polished off a 3-for-5 day with a two-run triple to set the final score at 8-4.
LHP Jerry Keel (1-0) earned the win by tossing 5.0 innings of one-run baseball while LHP Emilio Ogando (0-1) took the defeat on Sunday afternoon. The back half of the Naturals bullpen performed well in the loss as LHP Sam Selman and RHP Jake Newberry combined to strike out five Missions in 3.2 innings. The Naturals pitching staff on the whole fanned 11 batters in the game.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their opening 6-game homestand tomorrow night - Monday, April 9 - with Game 2 of this 3-game set against the San Antonio Missions (Double-A San Diego Padres) at Arvest Ballpark. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. for an Ozarks Electric Monday Night Lights featuring Dollar Hot Dogs by Tyson Foods, Inc. and Indigo Sky Casino Baseball Bingo. The Naturals will send RHP Glenn Sparkman to the mound while the Missions will counter with RHP Jesse Scholtens . Catch all of the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM 92.1 The Ticket beginning at 6:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch against the Double-A San Diego Padres 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 the 2018 season 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.