Naturals Spoil Opening Day With Late Rally

Former 'Hound Mitch Canham Spoils Home Opener

Zach Neal collected his first win as a RockHound on Sunday afternoon (Manabu Beppu)

By Bob Hards / Midland RockHounds | April 12, 2013 4:52 AM ET

Mitch Canham was a member of the RockHounds in 2011.  He came back to haunt his former club Thursday night, as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals defeated the RockHounds, 7-5, in front of a crowd of nearly six thousand (5,823)..

Canham went 2-for-5 including a two-run home run that boosted the Naturals into the lead, capping a four-run eighth inning.

The win was a bit of "revenge" for the Naturals, who were swept by the RockHounds in a season-opening three-game series at Springdale, Arkansas (the 'Hounds spoiled Northwest Arkansas' home opener by an 11-0 score).

The Naturals took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the 'Hounds busted loose with a five-run fourth to take a 5-1 lead.   Jefry Marte's double was the key hit in a rally in which five Rockhounds each drove in one run.

Canham, who brought in Northwest Arkansas' first run on a ground out, doubled and scored in the seventh to slice the 'Hounds' lead to 5-2. 

In the visitor's eighth inning, Angel Franco singled with one out and Orlando Calixte drilled a 400-foot double to dead center field.  Rey Navarro followed with a two-run double to chase reliever Paul Smyth, and the 'Hounds brought in Kyler Newby to face Canham.  The former 'Hound ripped a 2-2 pitch onto the grass berm in right field, as the Naturals completed the comeback to take a 6-5 lead, then added an insurance run in the ninth.

Lost in the comeback by the visitors was an outstanding start by Zach Neal.  The former Howard College star went 4.1 innings before being lifted due to a pitch limit.  Neal did not get the usual amount of work in Spring Training, so his pitch count has been limited.  He left the game with a 5-1 lead, allowing one run on two hits.  He allowed a walk and single to open the game, but the only batter to reach base against him from that point did so on an error.  Neal retired 12-of-the-last-13 batters he faced, and struck out six, including the last five in-a-row.  In two starts, Neal is 0-0 with a 1.08 ERA, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out eight batters in 8.1 innings.

Kibbles & Bits

-    Despite the loss, the RockHounds have outscored their opponents 39-15 in the season's first seven games.

-    Corpus Christi was the only South Division team to win Thursday night, so the Hooks (6-1) now lead the RockHounds (5-2) by one game with San Antonio (4-3) two games back and Frisco (3-4) trailing by three.

Line Score                          R    H    E    LOB   
NW Arkansas Naturals       7      9    0        6   
RockHounds                       5      8    1        5   

WP    Andy Ferguson    (1-0,  0.00)
LP    Kyler Newby    (0-1,  3.86)
Sv    Edwin Carl       (1,  2.08)

HR    Mitch Canham    (NWA, 1)    With one on in the 8th (off Kyler Newby)
Next Game
vs. NW Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals' A Affiliate)
Friday, April 11    7:00 p.m.    Radio at 6:50 p.m.
At Citibank Ballpark   

Probable Starters
NW Arkansas    (RH)  Sugar Marimon     (0-1,  3.18)
RockHounds    (RH)    Josh Bowman    (1-0,  0.00)


Late Naturals Rally Spoils Home Opener This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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