SPRINGDALE, Ark - Offenses were on display at Arvest Ballpark as the Naturals (15-22) claimed the series with a slugfest win over the Tulsa Drillers (20-17) in Game 2 on Tuesday night. In the 12-10 victory, Northwest Arkansas hit a season-high five home runs, including going back-to-back on two separate occasions, as they set a mark for the most runs in a game this season.
After starting in an early 3-0 hole, Northwest Arkansas got things rolling in the third inning as Taylor Featherston and Xavier Fernandez started the frame with back-to-back home runs off of Drillers' starter Michael Bowden . Then with an out in the inning, three consecutive singles by Nick Heath , Khalil Lee and Gabriel Cancel gave the Naturals the 4-3 advantage. The third inning has been the key thus far for Northwest Arkansas as they followed up last night's seven-run third with four more tonight.
From there on out, the game would turn into a back-and-forth affair. Tulsa reclaimed the lead if the fourth on a two-run triple by Gavin Lux before the Naturals tied it in the home half on a triple by Anderson Miller and a RBI groundout by Travis Jones .
Both team's would score runs in the fifth as the Drillers took a 6-5 lead on a RBI single by Keibert Ruiz before the Naturals exploded for another four-spot with two outs in the home half of the frame with the help of the long ball. The two-out surge was started by Cancel as he hit a towering home run to left to tie the game at 6-6. After a sharp single by Emmanuel Rivera , Miller and Jones got in on the fun as they duo hit back-to-back home runs to give Northwest Arkansas a three-run lead at 9-6.
The game remained 9-6 in the Naturals favor until the seventh when the Drillers stormed back. Zach Reks homered to begin the inning before D.J. Peters tied the proceedings with a two-out, two-run double. The tie game would be short-lived though as Northwest Arkansas would regain the lead after the stretch on a sacrifice fly by Rivera to plate Lee for the 10-9 advantage.
Two unearned runs in the eighth gave the Naturals the cushion they would need to withstand another Tulsa run in the ninth.
Right-handed reliever Franco Terrero (W, 2-2) earned the win out of the bullpen while closer Gabe Speier (S, 5) picked up his fifth save of the season with 2.0 innings of one-run baseball, no earned, while striking out four and walking none.
Shea Spitzbarth (L, 2-1) took the loss for Tulsa after giving up the go-ahead run to Northwest Arkansas in the seventh.
The offensive outburst was a welcome sight as five different players hit home runs (Cancel, Featherston, Fernandez, Jones and Miller) for the Naturals. The 12 runs was a season-high, eclipsing 11 on April 11, while the 14 hits were the second-best total.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their 7-game homestand as they go for the 3-game sweep of the Tulsa Drillers (Double-A Los Angeles Dodgers) tomorrow morning - Wednesday, May 15 - with first pitch scheduled for 11:05 a.m. Tomorrow's game is the final SWEPCO Education Day Game of the year with gates opening at 10:00 a.m. for the numerous students and chaperones scheduled to be in attendance. The Naturals will send right-hander Arnaldo Hernandez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the hill while the Drillers will counter with the highly-touted Dustin May (2-2, 3.41 ERA). Catch the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket at 10:45 a.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch.
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.