NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Naturals used a pair of two-out runs and seven strong innings by starter, Emilio Ogando , on Sunday afternoon to even the three-game series against the Arkansas Travelers with a 4-2 win at Dickey-Stephens Park.
Ogando (10-10, 3.45) allowed a first inning run and a fourth frame tally before settling in for his final three innings of work. The left-hander retired the final 11 hitters faced and posted 7.0 innings of two-run baseball while scattering four hits. The 24-year old struck out three batters and did not walk a hitter.
The quality start for Ogando is his team-leading 13th of the season, coming in just his 23rd start for the Naturals in 2017.
The offense backed the strong start from Ogando with four runs on 11 hits after being shutout in the series opener. Northwest Arkansas (67-72/28-41) trailed 1-0 entering the second frame against right-hander, Bryan Evans (4-2, 3.47)when Mauricio Ramos clubbed a lead-off triple on the second pitch of the inning and scored two hitters later on a ground-out by Anderson Miller .
The Naturals gained a 2-1 edge an inning later. Jack Lopez ignited a streak of three-straight two-out hits with Ryan O'Hearn capping off the stretch a run-scoring double down the left-field line to push the Naturals in front. It's the first double of the season for O'Hearn with Northwest Arkansas and his 27th of the 2017 season.
Ogando surrendered the tying run in the fourth; but the Naturals jumped back in front in the top of the fifth. With the bases loaded and two-outs, Nicky Lopez grounded a ball up the middle, which Travelers second baseman, Nelson Ward fielded on a reached-backhand. Ward's short throw to second base pulled the covering shortstop, Chris Mariscal off the bag which allowed all runners to advance. The error gave the Naturals a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning.
Northwest Arkansas tacked on an insurance run with a two-out, infield single by Miller in the seventh frame - the fourth of four straight two-out singles in the inning - and gained a 4-2 advantage.
Left-hander, Richard Lovelady polished off the final six outs for the save, his third in six attempts, to hold on for the 4-2 win.
The victory is the Naturals' first road win with Ogando on the mound since June 17. Prior the victory, the Naturals were 0-7 in the previous seven Ogando road starts. The left-hander has now worked 7.0 innings in three of his last five starts overall.
The Naturals will conclude the regular-season portion of the 2017 schedule with the Labor Day rubber match against the Travelers on Monday afternoon. Right-hander, Corey Ray (6-12, 5.61) will make his team-leading 29th start of the year against right-hander, Lindsey Caughel (10-10, 3.82) who will counter for the Travelers.
Join the Voice of the Naturals, Benjamin Kelly¸ with a 1:50 p.m. Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to the 2:10 p.m. first pitch 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.