SPRINGDALE, Ark - On a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Arvest Ballpark, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (32-29) rode Alfredo Escalera's big day and rallied to win a slugfest over the Arkansas Travelers (28-33) by a 10-9 final. The victory gives the Naturals sole possession of first place in the Texas League North Division standings following Springfield's loss to Tulsa earlier in the day.
With the Naturals trailing 5-1 in the second, Escalera began the comeback by launching a solo home run deep into the Bud Light Home Run Porch in left to cut the deficit to 5-2. The Travelers though would respond with another three runs in the third to extend the lead to 8-2 with the help of run-scoring singles by Nelson Ward and Ian Miller . However, in the home half of the frame Northwest Arkansas would set the table with three consecutive singles by Samir Duenez , Logan Moon , and Donnie Dewees, Jr. With the hot-hitting Alfredo Escalera coming to the plate, the Travs made a brief mound visit but it would prove insignificant as Escalera continued the rally by drilling the first pitch he saw for a Grand Slam to make it a 8-6 ballgame.
The game remained 8-6 until the fourth when the Naturals struck again with a two out rally. Duenez, whom finished 4-for-4, singled and moved to second on a walk by Moon then came into score on a RBI single by Dewees, Jr. to get within one at 8-7.
After a scoreless fifth, the Travelers turned to the slugging Dario Pizzano as he took a 2-0 pitch just over the wall in center for a solo home run, which gave Arkansas a 9-7 lead. Pizzano finished the game with five RBI and a triple shy of completing the cycle.
Still trailing 9-7 in the eighth, Northwest Arkansas would complete the comeback. Duenez led off the frame with a double and advanced to third on a single by Moon. The Travelers' turned to the bullpen and LHP Zac Curtis (L, 0-2). Dewees followed with a RBI groundout before Escalera reached on an infield single, which set the stage for Natural newcomer Nick Dini . Dini, whom went 3-for-5 on the day, ripped a two out game-winning two-run double to score both Dewees and Escalera for a 10-9 lead.
RHP Jake Newberry (W, 3-2), whom worked a scoreless eighth, delivered a perfect ninth to nail down the comeback win.
Both teams brought their offense as the two squads combined for 36 hits, five doubles, and three home runs on the day.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their long 9-game homestand with Game 3 of this 4-game series against the Arkansas Travelers (Double-A Seattle Mariners) tomorrow night - Monday, June 12 - with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Arvest Ballpark. It's an Ozarks Electric Cooperative Monday Night Lights featuring Dollar Hot Dogs by Tyson Foods, Inc. and Indigo Sky Casino Baseball Bingo. The Naturals will send LHP Emilio Ogando (3-3, 2.95 ERA) to the bump against RHP Justin DeFratus (1-1, 6.28 ERA) of the Travelers. Catch all of the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket at 6:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch against the North Division rivals.
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.