SPRINGDALE, Ark - Locked in a 1-1 game in the seventh, third baseman Mauricio Ramos delivered the game-winning RBI single to give the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (5-8) a 2-1 series opening victory over the Tulsa Drillers (6-7) on Thursday night.
As the tie game got late, the Naturals turned to the middle of their order to provide some fire power. Clean-up hitter Frank Schwindel led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to left field, which was just out of the reach of the Tulsa third baseman. Ramos, the very next hitter, put Northwest Arkansas on top for good at 2-1 with a RBI single to right field.
Tulsa was the first team to get on the board with a run in the fourth courtesy of some two-out offense. Three consecutive singles by Kyle Garlick, Edwin Rios, and Kyle Farmer produced the run as Farmer delivered the run-scoring single for an early 1-0 lead. Northwest Arkansas though would have an immediate answer as Alfredo Escalera led off the home half with a double. After moving to third base on a wild pitch, Escalera came into score on a sacrifice fly by Schwindel to tie the game at 1-1.
The Naturals gave the ball to RHP Miguel Almonte, a member of the Kansas City Royals 40-man roster, to begin the series. The 24-year-old was up to the challenge as he was spectacular in the game. The hard-throwing righty out of the Dominican Republic allowed only one run on five hits, no walks, and struck out a season-high seven in 6.0 innings but did not factor in the decision.
The Northwest Arkansas bullpen picked up where Almonte left off with 3.0 innings of relief. RHP Reid Redman (W, 1-0) got the win with 2.0 scoreless frames while RHP Jake Newberry (S, 2) worked the ninth and picked up his second save of the season.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their eight game homestand with Game 2 of this 4-game series against the Tulsa Drillers (Double-A Los Angeles Drillers) tomorrow night - Friday, April 21 - with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Tomorrow night's game features a Post-Game Fireworks Spectacular with Popular Player Walk-Up Songs by SeaPak and a Special Appearance by Nickelodeon's Shimmer and Shine. Veteran RHP Christian Binford (1-0, 2.25 ERA) will take the mound for the Naturals and he'll be opposed by RHP Ivan Vieitez (0-1, 4.32 ERA) of the Drillers. Catch all of the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on AM 1590 - The Ticket 2 at 6:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading to first pitch.
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.