Naturals upend Drillers

CREATED Aug. 2, 2013

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TULSA  (KFAQ) - The Tulsa Drillers finished the month of July on a high note by winning four of their last five games at home. Jason Adam and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals prevented the Drillers from carrying that momentum into August, however, as they defeated Tulsa 5-3 Thursdaynight at Arvest Ballpark.

 

Adam, the #18 prospect in the Kansas City Royals organization according to MLB.com, allowed just two unearned runs on three hits through six innings Thursday to record his fourth win over the Drillers this season. The 6'5" right-hander struck out six and issued two walks to notch his sixth victory of the year.

 

Tulsa's Tim Gustafson was saddled with the loss despite a solid effort. The Florida native allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits in five innings of work, while striking out five and walking one.

 

The loss drops Tulsa to 18-23 in the second half and 52-57 overall. Meanwhile, Northwest Arkansas improves to 22-19, two games behind the first place Arkansas Travelers in the North Division standings.

 

The game stayed scoreless until the fourth when Naturals newcomer Jorge Bonifacio broke the deadlock with an RBI single. With runners on the corners and one away, the 20-year old right fielder lined a base hit into left field to plate Cheslor Cuthbert with the game's first run.

 

Bonifacio, Kansas City's #5 overall prospect, joined the Naturals at the end of July. Thursday marked his third Double-A start of the season.

 

Northwest Arkansas tripled its lead in the fifth on a two-out, two-run double from Cuthbert. Mitch Canham doubled with one out in the inning. Roman Hernandez then hit a grounder to third that Jayson Langfels was unable to corral after the ball took an unfortunate bounce. After an Orlando Calixte strikeout, Cuthbert worked the count full before smoking Gustafson's 3-2 offering into the right-center field gap to give the Naturals a 3-0 advantage.

 

The Drillers responded with two runs of their own in the top of the sixth. Tyler Kuhn drew a leadoff walk and went to second on a base hit by Langfels. Delta Cleary Jr. then reached on what was ruled a sacrifice bunt and an error after laying down a perfectly placed bunt to load the bases. Adam nearly wriggled out of the bases loaded jam, striking out the next two batters before Kyle Parker ripped a clutch, two-out single into left field to score Kuhn and Langfels, cutting Tulsa's deficit to one.

 

Northwest Arkansas answered with two more runs in the seventh, however, to regain its three-run cushion. Angel Franco drew a leadoff walk and came all the way around to score when Canham followed with his second double of the game. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Hernandez, Canham scampered home when reliever Mike Solbach uncorked a wild pitch to make it 5-2.

 

With two outs in the ninth, Dustin Garneau blasted his 10th home run of the season off Naturals closer Zach Jackson. But the solo shot was too little, too late as Jackson retired Angelys Nina to end the game.

 

The Drillers and Naturals return to Arvest Ballpark Friday for game two of their four-game series. Tulsa's Christian Bergman (5-7, 3.55 ERA) will take the mound against Sugar Ray Marimon (6-10, 4.57 ERA) of Northwest Arkansas. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00PM.

 

NOTE: Former Driller Chad Bettis suffered a loss in his Major League debut with the Colorado Rockies Thursday night in Atlanta. Bettis, who went 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA in Tulsa before the big league promotion, gave up five runs on six hits over five innings, while walking five and striking out one. The Braves, who had scored 29 runs in the first three games of the series, went on wallop the Rockies 11-2.