Late inning heroics propel Wind Surge past Naturals for series win
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals fell to the Wichita Wind Surge in 10 innings on Sunday, 9-8, at Arvest Ballpark and won the series 4-2.
Wichitas’ Patrick Winkel laced his 14th double of the year to center field on a 2-2 count with one out to score Alex Isola from second and was the game winner. Noah Cameron took the bump for NWA and he battled for five innings before giving way to the bullpen. He gave up three runs, two earned, off of four hits and surrendered a walk and struck out five batters in the no decision.
The Wind Surge struck first and took a 2-0 lead off of a Alex Isola long ball that cleared the left field wall. Dalton Shuffield would ground into a fielder’s choice double play that scored Winkel and extend the lead to 3-0 in the 4th inning.
Newly called up left fielder Javier Vaz’ bat showed some pop early with a single to right field to score the Naturals first run of the game in the 5th inning driving in Jeison Guzman to close the scoring gap to 3-1.
NWA’s bat started to heat up on this hot Arkansas day and would put a five spot on the board in the 6th inning. First, Guzman would hit a soft liner to right field with the bases loaded and that cleared them to give the Naturals their first lead of the game. Guzman would advance to second after first baseman Aaron Sabato couldn’t handle the relay throw. Then, Vas would strike again, this time a triple to right and plate Morgan McCollough to make it 6-3 at the end of six.
A return favor was in store for the Naturals as they gave up five runs in the top half of the 7th inning and was highlighted by Isola’s grand slam on a 1-1 count with two outs. A Winkel double would tack on another run to give Witicha a 8-6 lead.
Vaz’s big day continued when he came up in the bottom of the 8th inning and runners on the corners with one out. He sent a 1-2 pitch to second for a force out and that scored McCollough to get the naturals one run closer and make it 8-7.
Jorge Bonifacio had a quiet day, 0-4 and two strikeouts, but his last out was a loud, productive one. Peyton Wilson would set Bonifacio up nicely after hitting a rocket to center field for a triple to put NWA in business with no outs in the bottom of the 9th. Bonifacio drove an 0-2 pitch to deep center field to allow Wilson to tie the game up at 8-8.
Free Baseball, sort of.
Wichita used a quick strike attack to take a 9-8 lead with a Winkel double and scored Isola from second to take the lead, 9-8. NWA would get runners on first and second after Guzman drew a walk and put pressure on Wind Surge pitcher Issac Mattson; he gave up the tying run in the bottom of the 9th. He came through by retiring the final three Natural batters to earn his 3rd win of the season.
Vaz is a “Natural” Brightspot.
Javier Vaz quickly welcomed himself to Arvest Ballpark and Northwest Arkansas this weekend after being promoted just before this series began on Tuesday. to the Naturals before the start of this series. He had a great back half of the weekend going 3-7 with a walk, a strikeout and 4 RBI’s in the final two games of the series. It took him just a couple of games to get adjusted to the friendly confines of Arvest Ballpark before catching fire. Vaz’s solid bat in the bottom of the line-up is a nice addition for Skip Tommy Shields and the Texas League southern division leader Naturals. To say the least this has been a juxtaposition from where this club was just a month ago.
The NWA Naturals are a half game out of first place, behind the Arkansas Travelers, and hit the road to Corpus Christi Texas to take on the Hooks. NWA had a couple of close losses earlier in May at home to the Hooks and they look to return the favor and retake the division lead with the playoffs nearing and five series left in the season.