SPRINGDALE, Ark - In search of back-to-back wins for the first time this half, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (4-14, 39-49) scored a few late runs but were ultimately overpowered by the first-place Tulsa Drillers (14-5, 48-41) in an 14-3 defeat on Thursday night at Arvest Ballpark. In total, Tulsa pounded out 16 hits and hit four home runs to even up this 4-game series.
Like in the series opener, Tulsa raced out to an early lead. The Drillers used a couple of walks and a hit to load the bases with no outs in the first against Emilio Ogando (L, 5-6). The Naturals' starter uncorked a wild pitch that brought in the first run as Errol Robinson scored from third. The left-hander would quickly respond though as he struck out the next three hitters in order to keep the deficit at a minimum after one.
The Tulsa lead would grow to 3-0 in the second after Drew Jackson and Keibert Ruiz led-off with back-to-back solo home runs.
The fourth inning would prove pivotal once again but this time it went in favor of the visitors. A night after scoring seven runs against Tulsa, he Naturals gave up six runs on six hits. The damage was done by three big at-bats as Tyler Goeddel had a two-run single, Robinson had a two-run double and Luke Raley hit a mammoth two-run shot to center for a commanding 9-0 advantage.
The Drillers would continue the offensive onslaught with a run in the fifth and another in the sixth. Ruiz, the highly-touted catching prospect, connected on his second solo home run of the game in the fifth while the hot-hitting Will Smith doubled home Yusniel Diaz for a run in the sixth. Ruiz and Diaz will represent the Dodgers organization at the MLB Futures Game on Sunday.
Northwest Arkansas would get their first run in the seventh as Anderson Miller doubled to put runners on second and third with no one out. Corey Toups then plated Kelvin Gutierrez with a RBI groundout to erase the zero from the scoreboard.
The Naturals' turned to John Brontsema , a position player, to pitch the eighth and Tulsa used three hits to score three runs as D.J. Peters had a run-scoring single before Ruiz continued his big offensive night (4 RBIs) with a two-run double for a 14-1 lead.
Northwest Arkansas continued battling as they'd load the bases in the ninth. Gutierrez scored his second run of the game on a RBI groundout by Xavier Fernandez before Jecksson Flores collected a RBI single to plate Brontsema to set the final at 14-3. Gutierrez led the offense for the Naturals' with three hits while Flores chipped in two.
Ogando took the loss while Mitchell White (W, 2-4) earned the win for Tulsa with 6.2 innings of one-run baseball.
Northwest Arkansas will continue their 4-game series against the Tulsa Drillers, the Double-A Affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Game 3 tomorrow night - Friday, July 13 - with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Gates will open at 6:00 p.m. for a Fireworks Friday featuring a special appearance by Marshall from Nickelodeon's Paw Patrol and a Game-Worn Jersey Auction for Cancer Charity 4 Life. The Naturals will turn to RHP Scott Blewett (4-5, 5.48 ERA) on Friday while the Drillers will give the baseball to RHP Andrew Sopko (3-0, 3.67 ERA). Catch all of the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket starting 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 the 2018 season 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.