SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- For one night only, Arvest Ballpark was a chicken coop.
Thunder Chickens, that is.
When the Northwest Arkansas Naturals first came to Springdale in 2007, the name of the franchise was put up to popular vote. Naturals won, but “Thunder Chickens” came in second, and for one night, the team found out “what might have been,” complete with logos, jerseys and ballpark graphics for Friday’s game against the Arkansas Travelers.
Johnny Whittleman got the feathers flying in the bottom of the second with his tenth home run, a solo shot to right center to put Northwest Arkansas up 1-0. But in the fourth, the Travelers tied it up on three straight two-out singles, the final one from Roberto Lopez and driving in Ryan Mount.
Arkansas added two more on the eighth on a triple and a double to lead 3-1, but the Thunder Chickens were determined not to lay an egg and got two back in the bottom of the inning. An infield single from Mario Lisson scored John Whittleman, then Julio Rodriguez doubled to left, scoring Paulo Orlando. Rey Navarro was on first and was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
After the teams traded a scoreless ninth, Jean Segura scored Darwin Perez with a sacrifice fly to give Arkansas a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Carlo Testa walked with one out, then advanced to second on a Rey Navarro single. After Julio Rodriguez was hit by a pitch, and Yem Prades struck out for the second out, Christian Colon drew a bases-loaded walk to score Testa with the tying run. One batter later, Eric Duncan reached on an infield single scoring Navarro with the game-winning run.
Patrick Keating (2-0) gets the win for throwing two innings of one run relief.
Northwest Arkansas—back as the Naturals—wraps up the series with Arkansas on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.