TULSA, Okla. - Two playoff hopefuls battled out the series opener at Tuesday night at ONEOK Field and sure enough, it came down to the final inning. Right-hander, Scott Blewett , fired eight innings and did all he could to keep his team in the contest for the long haul. But in the end - the Drillers prevailed with a 6-5 walk-off win.
Tulsa put the first two men on to open the ninth inning. Zach Reks chopped a slow, high-hopper over the mound and second baseman, Jecksson Flores , charged with a bare-hand and barely missed nipping Reks at the bag. The next batter, Cael Brockmeyer blooped a single into shallow right to set the table in the bottom of the ninth in a tie 5-5 game.
Manager, Scott Hennessey, went to his bench to bring in pinch-runner, Logan Landon while left-hand batting, Wes Darvill stepped to the plate, laid a bunt down 15 feet down the third-base line. Naturals' catcher, Xavier Fernandez picked it up, fired to first for the only play he had and the ball shot past first and up the rightfield line to bring home Landon for a 6-5 Drillers win.
With the loss, the Naturals elimination number dwindled from five to three with four games remaining in the series with Tulsa.
Blewett - who did not factor in the decision - allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk. The right-hander threw a season-high 109 pitches and retired the last 12 consecutive batters to finish his start.
Tulsa plated three runs off Blewett in the first inning and took a 3-1 lead; but the Naturals' offense continued to chip away against starter, Yadier Alvarez . Northwest Arkansas scored runs in the first, second and third innings one three hits, used three wild pitches, two run-scoring ground-outs by Kelvin Gutierrez and two walks to tie the game eventually in the third.
After the Drillers scored in the fourth and an unearned run in the fifth; that's when Blewett settled in.
Northwest Arkansas (66-67/31-32) tied the game in the seventh inning. Drillers reliever, Jason Richman , left with one out and runners on second and third after Erick Mejia's double sent Fernandez to third. Flores struck the first pitch he saw from right-hander, Andrew Istler and set it into right for a sacrifice fly. Samir Duenez shot a base-hit to right to score Mejia from second to tie the score.
The Naturals were held to 1-for-10 with men in scoring position and stranded five runners.
Franco Terrero (3-6, 5.40 ERA) suffered the loss while Istler wound up with his fifth win of the season.
The series continues with a double-header on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at ONEOK Field with game one slated for a 5:00 p.m. start. Left-hander, Foster Griffin (10-12, 5.05) takes the mound hunting for his seventh straight winning decision against right-hander, Mitchell White (5-6, 4.39 ERA) opposite for the Drillers.
Game two features left-hander, Luis Lugo (1-1, 4.91 ERA) against right-hander, Andrew Sopko (3-1, 4.27 ERA) with the start time to be 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game.
Join the Voice of the Naturals, Benjamin Kelly, with a 4:45 Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to the 5:00 p.m. first pitch on the flagship station of the Naturals, 92.1-FM, the Ticket and across the Naturals' Radio Network.
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.