Naturals Snap Tulsa's Four-Game Winning Streak
SPRINGDALE, Arkansas - Northwest Arkansas produced two big innings Thursday night, one early and one late, and defeated the Tulsa Drillers 10-4 at Springdale's Arvest Ballpark. The defeat snapped a season high four-game winning streak for the Drillers. The loss dropped the Drillers 3½ games behind first-place Arkansas in the North Division standings of the Texas League with only 12 games remaining in the first half of the season.
Tulsa actually took an early lead in the contest. Rafael Ortega led off the game with a base hit and moved to third on a double by Cristhian Adames. Ortega came home on a sacrifice fly from Kiel Roling, while Adames scored on a base hit by Garneau.
The Drillers two-run lead did not last long as the Naturals put five runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning off Tulsa starter Christian Bergman. Leadoff hitter Brett Eibner struck out but reached first base safely when the third strike got by the catcher Garneau. Orlando Calixte also struck out, but Brian Fletcher, playing in his first game since April 8, belted a two-run homer to even the score at 2-2.
After Matt Fields struck out for what would have been the third out of the inning, the Naturals had four straight singles to plate three more runs, all unearned, to make it 5-2.
Fletcher struck again in the bottom of the fourth when he led off with his second homer of the night, but Kent Matthes pulled the Drillers to within 6-4 with a clout of his own in the sixth inning. Adames drew a walk to open the inning. After a pair of outs, Matthes belted his ninth home run of the year to cut the deficit to two runs.
The Drillers missed a chance to pull even closer when they loaded the bases with only one out in the eighth, but Matthes struck out and Angelys Nina grounded out to end the threat.
The Naturals put the game away with their second big inning of the night in the bottom of the eighth. The damage came against Ryan Buch who was making his Drillers debut. Rey Navarro, Eibner and Fletcher all had run-scoring doubles in the inning.
Northwest Arkansas totaled 16 hits in the contest. Bergman surrendered 10 hits and 6 runs, only 2 earned, to suffer the loss that dropped his record to 3-5.
Naturals' starter Jason Adam (1-7) picked up his first win of the season, allowing five hits and four runs in six innings.
The series between the two teams now moves back to Tulsa's ONEOK Field for the fourth and final game Friday night. Sean Gallagher (2-0, 1.37 ERA) will take the mound for the Drillers against Sugar Ray Marimon (2-7, 5.68 ERA) of the Naturals. Starting time is set for 7:05 p.m.