SPRINGDALE -- Northwest Arkansas scored early against the Tulsa Drillers, and the bullpen pitched four scoreless innings to help the Naturals to a 4-1 win Friday night.
The Naturals (6-8) took advantage of Tulsa's mistakes in the second inning, scoring three runs to take a lead they would not surrender the rest of the game. Nathan Esposito reached base on an error after Drillers third baseman Connor Joe's throw to second base went into the dirt. A wild pitch from Karch Kowalcyzk moved Esposito and Alfredo Escalera into scoring position, setting up the big inning for Northwest Arkansas.
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Nicky Lopez paced the offense with two hits, and four other Naturals picked up a hit for the team.
The Naturals made quick work of Tulsa's starter Devin Smeltzer. The lefty only recorded two outs in the first inning before being pulled for Karch Kowalcyzk. After giving up a single to Lopez, Smeltzer got two Naturals to fly out to center field before giving up a run and allowing three batters to reach base.
Drillers (8-6) pitchers struggled early to put away Naturals players, giving up four runs in the first two innings. Kowalcyzk (0-1) gave up three runs, two earned, across two total innings of pitching to pick up the loss.
Pitchers Emilio Ogando and Yunior Marte combined to allow only one run on four hits to Tulsa batters through 8.0 innings. The Drillers entered the game leading the Texas League in batting average, hitting .281 on the season.
• Drillers left fielder Jacob Scavuzzo extended his hitting streak to eight games after blasting a solo home run in the second inning. It was Scavusso's second homer in as many nights after he hit a three-run shot in Tulsa's 11-0 win Thursday.
• Naturals pitcher Yunior Marte retired eight straight batters before giving up a walk in the eighth inning. The righty struck out the side in the sixth on his way to a five-strikeout outing.
• Jake Newberry picked up his third save of the season. He's now tied with Tulsa's Josh Sborz and Midland's J.B. Wendelken for first place in the Texas League.
On Deck: RHP Glenn Sparkman (1-1, 1.50 ERA) will take the mound for the Naturals to face the Drillers' RHP Yadier Alvarez (0-0, 4.50 ERA) as both teams head back to Tulsa for a two-game series. Sparkman is coming off a strong five-inning performance against San Antonio on April 15 in which he struck out six while only giving up one run on three hits. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Sports on 04/21/2018
Print Headline: Bullpen helps Naturals top Tulsa