Sunday brought a new game between the Drillers and the Naturals, but the end result was the same as the young talent in the Kansas City Royals farm system was on full display. Raul Mondesi and Bubba Starling took center stage for the Naturals as the Drillers fell for the second straight game to their North Division rivals 7-5.
One night after hitting a tie-breaking, three-run homer for the visitors from Arkansas, Mondesi was back in the middle of the action Sunday afternoon. The Royals number one overall prospect was a thorn in the Drillers side again as the shortstop finished his day 3-4 with a double, two singles, two RBI and two runs scored.
His teammate Starling likewise had a big day at the plate as the centerfielder also went 3-4 with a home run, a double and two singles to help pace NW Arkansas. Starling came into the season ranked by MLB.com as the Royals number seven prospect.
The Naturals got on the board right away as Mondesi singled, stole second and promptly came around to score on a Hunter Dozier RBI single to put NW Arkansas on top 1-0. The stolen base was Mondesi's 10th of the season.
The third inning brought more of the same. Tulsa starter Brock Stewart retired the leadoff man before giving up back-to-back hits. Mondesi stepped up to the plate again and delivered a two-run double into the left-center field alley to put the visitors up 3-0. Stewart then compounded his troubles as he threw a pickoff attempt into center field to move Mondesi over to third. That would come back to bite him as Orlando Calixte extended the Naturals lead to 4-0 with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Tulsa's bats woke up in the home half of the third as Drew Maggi smacked a double down the left field line, followed by an RBI single off the bat of Brandon Trinkwon to cut the Drillers deficit to 4-1.
Steward buckled down from there as the right-hander tossed three scoreless innings to keep the game close for Tulsa. Overall, Stewart finished having allowed just three earned runs over his six innings of work while collecting seven strikeouts.
Unfortunately, NW Arkansas starter Matt Strahm was dealing as well. The Royals number ten overall prospect hurled five innings of one-run ball, striking out eight Tulsa batters to lead the visitors.
Facing Tulsa reliever Dustin Richardson in the top of the seventh, Starling broke up the scoreless streak Stewart had begun with a towering drive into the left field Budweiser Terrace to push the Naturals lead to 5-1. The blast was Starling's 4th of the year.