Naturals turn Pease offering into win

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(Per NWA Naturals)

SPRINGDALE, AR – Paulo Orlando’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth scored Christian Colon and gave the Naturals a 9-8 win and a series win over the San Antonio Missions in a game Tuesday night at Arvest Ballpark which featured several lead changes and some sloppy play by both sides.

Leading 8-6, Missions skipper John Gibbons called on sidewinding lefty Dustin Pease to face the left-handed Johnny Whittleman, but Naturals’ skipper Brian Poldberg countered by calling on Kurt Mertins, a right-handed batter who was batting at an .097 clip (3-for-31) coming into the game.  Facing a two-strike count, Mertins came through with a two-run single through the left side of the San Antonio infield to square the game.

Paulo Orlando was able to get Colon, who had drawn a walk off Missions’ reliever Matt Lollis (0-1) in with a single to center moving Mertins to third as the Naturals took a 9-8 lead.

Both teams began the game tossing up blanks until San Antonio (5-7) drew the first blood in the fourth. Nathan Freiman and Jaff Decker hit back-to-back singles with one out and both came into score after Cody Decker drew a two-out walk and Jason Hagerty lined a single past Naturals first baseman Johnny Whittleman.

That lead would get extended to 5-0 in the fifth when Naturals’ second baseman Rey Navarro misplayed a ball off the bat of the Missions’ Jeudy Valdez.  Jedd Gyorko followed with a single to put runners at the corners before the cleanup hitter Freiman launched his league leading fifth homer of the season, a cannon shot to the deepest part of the ballpark in left center.

Northwest Arkansas (5-7) broke through, batted around, and retook the lead in what turned out to be a wild sixth inning. Johnny Whittleman led off the frame with a walk, one of four he drew on the night, and Yem Prades singled with one out. Carlo Testa followed and hit an RBI single to right to score Whittleman, and him and Testa both moved up on a wild throw by San Antonio right fielder Jaff Decker.

 

That spelled the end of the night for Missions’ starter Keyvius Sampson, a highly regarded San Diego Padres’ prospect.  Jason Ray relieved and allowed both inherited runners to score by walking the next three batters – Sharlon Schoop, Ryan Jenkins, and Rey Navarro.  That cut the Missions lead to 5-3.

Ray was then lifted in favor of Erik Hamren, who Christian Colon greeted with a single that dropped right in front of Missions’ center fielder Reymond Fuentes. Fuentes air-mailed the throw to the netting behind the backstop, allowing both Schoop and Jenkins to score and tie the game.

Navarro would come in on a wild pitch by Hamren, but Missions’ catcher Jason Hagerty was able to gun down Colon at third to stop further damage.

Storming right back were the Missions. Valdez lined a single to right and moved to second on a walk to Jedd Gyorko. Freiman followed and grounded to the Naturals’ shortstop Colon, who threw wildly of the first base bag as the baseball ricocheted off the dugout railing.  That allowed both runners to score and they retook a 7-6 lead.  But southpaw reliever Blaine Hardy got Edinson Rincon to ground into a twin killing to end the frame.

One inning later though San Antonio would extend their lead to 8-6. Cody Decker drew a walk off Hardy and, after the lefty was relieved in favor of Kendal Volz, who had just one hit allowed on the season thus far, Reymond Fuentes skied a ball that landed over the head of Naturals’ center fielder Yem Prades, allowing Decker to score.

Volz (2-0) retired the side in order in the ninth to get the win for Northwest Arkansas.

Jake Odorizzi started for the Naturals and had a pretty solid outing before running into trouble in the fifth. He allowed six hits and five runs, four earned, in five innings.  He fanned four and walked two.

The Naturals have an off day Wednesday before heading to North Little Rock on Thursday to begin a four-game weekend series with their in-state rival Arkansas Travelers. Left-hander Noel Arguelles (0-2, 9.39), looking to rebound from a tough first two starts in Double-A, takes the hill for the Naturals opposite right-hander Orangel Arenas (0-1, 4.09) for the Travs.  First pitch is 7:10 P.M. Listen live on News/Talk 1030 KFAY.