TULSA, Okla. - Right-hander, Jace Vines authored his second quality start of the season as the Naturals capitalized on eight Drillers walks in the 8-4 triumph over Tulsa at ONEOK Field on Thursday night. The victory keeps the Northwest Arkansas elimination number at one for another day.
Vines (4-3, 6.48) struggled earlier in his start allowing three runs on five hits in his first two frames. After the 23-year old allowed a lead-off single in the fourth to Michael Ahmed, he settled in and retired the final 10 batters faced, working into the seventh inning. Vines worked 6.1 innings, allowed three runs, scatted seven hits while punching out six batters in the game. The right-hander two of the final four faced.
Northwest Arkansas (68-68/33-33) struck in the first inning against right-hander, Tony Gonsolin who carried in a 14-inning scoreless streak into his ninth start of the season. Erick Mejia led the game off with his 26th double of the season and scored on a two-out single by Kelvin Gutierrez .
After the Drillers tied the game in the first inning, Gonsolin walked three batters to open the third inning, loaded the bases and uncorked a wild pitch to plate Jecksson Flores , pushing the Naturals ahead, 2-1. After the 24-year old walked his fifth batter of his start, the Tulsa bullpen took over. Xavier Fernandez gave the Naturals a 3-1 lead in the third inning with a run-scoring groundout.
Tulsa tied the game at 3-3 in the third inning, but hunted for more. Alex Liddi threw out Jacob Scavuzzo at the plate to end the threat in the third after Zach Reks singled to left-field.
Liddi came through with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth inning to give the Naturals a 5-3 lead. Northwest Arkansas tacked on three more runs throughout the ballgame and picked up the 8-4 win.
Left-hander, Gabe Speier pitched one and two-third innings of one-run baseball with three strikeouts while Walker Sheller worked the final frame on 10 pitches, striking out Errol Robinson to end the game.
The Naturals enter action tomorrow night three and one-half games behind the Drillers with four games remaining in the regular season and will need to win-out the remainder of the regular season in order to stay alive for a playoff berth.
Left-hander, Emilio Ogando (11-6, 4.50 ERA) takes the mound for what is the final time during the regular season. The left-hander owns the league's lowest ERA at 0.75 since July 17 and has gone 6-0 over his last eight start. Left-hander, Ben Holmes (1-2, 3.19 ERA) will go for Tulsa making his sixth start at Double-A in the rubber-match of the five-game set.
Join the Voice of the Naturals, Benjamin Kelly, with a 6:45 Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to the 7:05 p.m. first pitch on the flagship station of the Naturals, 92.1-FM, the Ticket and across the Naturals' Radio Network.
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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.