WICHITA, Kan. – The Northwest Arkansas Naturals have captured the first ever Double-A Central Championship after defeating Wichita on Friday night at Riverfront Stadium as the Naturals beat the Wind Surge by a 6-2 final to complete the three-game sweep. The title for Northwest Arkansas is the club’s first since
WICHITA, Kan. – The Northwest Arkansas Naturals have captured the first ever Double-A Central Championship after defeating Wichita on Friday night at Riverfront Stadium as the Naturals beat the Wind Surge by a 6-2 final to complete the three-game sweep. The title for Northwest Arkansas is the club’s first since winning the Texas League Championship in 2010.
Wichita took an early 1-0 lead in Game 3 on a solo home run by Jermaine Palacios in the second inning, but Northwest Arkansas responded with a run in the third and then four more in the fourth.
Blake Perkins singled with one-out in the third and advanced to third base on a throwing error by the pitcher on a pickoff attempt before coming in to score on a Clay Dungan sacrifice fly to even the game at a run apiece.
In what turned out to be the pivotal inning, the Naturals loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth. Meibrys Viloria led off with a single, Seuly Matias walked, and Freddy Fermin singled to set the stage for Brewer Hicklen. Hicklen took advantage of the opportunity as he clubbed a 1-1 breaking ball over the wall in left for a grand slam to give his team the lead for good at 5-1.
The Wind Surge responded with their second and final run of the game in the fourth; however, the Naturals would add an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single by Vinnie Pasquantino.
Left-hander Drew Parrish got the start for Northwest Arkansas and was solid as he gave up two runs on three hits and struck out five in 4.0 innings of work. Nolan Watson (W, 1-0) was called upon in relief and earned the win out of the Naturals bullpen. Watson was brilliant during his outing as he twirled 4.0 scoreless innings to keep the Naturals in complete control of the game.
For the final three outs in the ninth, Manager Scott Thorman turned to his closer Jose Cuas and he delivered a scoreless frame. Cuas struck out the final batter and the celebration ensued.
Fans will have the opportunity to see the Double-A Central trophy at Arvest Ballpark the week of September 27th as it’ll be displayed in the Naturals Team Store. Fans are invited to come out to the ballpark Tuesday through Thursday from 12pm – 4pm and on Friday 12pm – 3pm for photos.