SPRINGDALE -- A series split never felt so good.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals won in dramatic fashion in their final at-bat for the second time in three games to earn a split with Tulsa with a 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon before 3,351 at Arvest Ballpark.
Northwest Arkansas (47-69 overall, 16-32 second half) halted an eight-series losing streak dating back to a split of a four-game series at Tulsa on July 4-7.
"I thought about that, if we can win today then we can split the series," Naturals Manager Darryl Kennedy said. "That's not bad. It seems like we've been getting behind, behind, behind. It was good see the guys battle back."
Jordan George opened the home half of the ninth inning with a walk on a full count after opening the appearance with three straight balls. Taylor Featherston showed bunt but was drilled with the next pitch.
D.J. Burt started off with two strikes but then coaxed four straight balls for another walk to load the bases, marking the exit of Jordan Sheffield for Luis Vasquez for Tulsa (64-54, 27-22).
Freddy Fermin then lined a 2-1 pitch between third and short to bring home Kevin Merrell, who was running for George.
Northwest Arkansas took advantage of gifts by Tulsa to score their first two runs and answer runs by Tulsa.
Burt put a bunt down the first-base line to open the third inning. The throw by catcher Connor Wong sailed down the line almost to the wall, and Burt went all the way to third. Tulsa argued that Burt interfered with the throw by not running in the runner's lane to first base. Fermin's chopper to short scored Burt to tie the game at 1-1.
With an out in the seventh inning, Burt walked and took second on a balk, which was also argued by Tulsa. Fermin's soft liner to center scored Burt to tie the game at 2-2.
"We got some key hits and got some key breaks," Kennedy said. "The balk that put D.J. on second, and Freddy had the one-out big hit. It was a total team effort and great job."
Northwest Arkansas held Tulsa at bay, despite 12 hits by the Drillers, with some outstanding defensive plays.
Blake Perkins threw Donovan Casey out at home in the first inning after a base hit to keep Tulsa's lead at just 1-0.
In the eighth, Fermin, the catcher, picked Jared Walker off first base right before a triple by Walker.
Burt, the leftfielder, tracked down a deep fly ball to the wall with a runner on and two outs in the top of the ninth.
Andres Sotillet, Franco Terrero and finally Zach Lovvorn in the ninth kept Tulsa scoreless over the last 4 2/3 innings after a solid start by Dan Tillo.
"Sotillet coming in for Tillo with runners on second and third there and getting out of it to keep the game at 2-1," Kennedy said. "Terrero put up two great innings for us, and then we just got Lovvorn from Triple-A. He goes out there and gets us out of the ninth to give us a chance to win."
• Catcher Freddy Fermin drove in all three runs for the Naturals and also picked a runner off first base in the eighth inning.
• Tulsa left 12 runners on base, including seven in scoring position.
• Dan Tillo, who originally committed to the Arkansas Razorbacks out of Iowa Western Community College but instead signed with the Royals in the third round of the 2017 draft, made his first start in Northwest Arkansas after being promoted from Advanced-A Wilmington in late July.
On Deck: Right-hander Scott Blewett (0-1, 9.00) makes his second start back at the Double-A level for Northwest Arkansas on Monday against Arkansas. Blewett made his Naturals' debut at Arkansas last week, giving up three runs in three innings and suffering the loss in a 4-1 setback to the Travelers. Arkansas will go with Ljay Newsom (2-2, 2.08) on the mound. First pitch at Dickey-Stephens Park is 7:10 p.m.
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NW News on 08/12/2019
Print Headline: Naturals win in dramatic fashion