The Naturals late Inning rally falls short Friday Night.
Giving up runs in chunks was a bugaboo the Naturals faced during some rough stretches in the first half of this season, and it reared its ugly head again in a 9-8 loss to Corpus Christi Friday night.
The Naturals got a three-run rally started, down 9-5, in the top of the 9th, and darn near pulled it off. Javier Vaz led the inning off with a single through the right side of the infield, and Tolbert worked the count full and sent a liner up the middle that found its way up the middle to center field. Peyton Wilson hit a soft liner on an 0-1 count to right field, and the speedy Vaz motored home to close the lead to 9-6. Tucker Bradley lined out to first, then Bonifacio popped out to third to bring up Cayden Wallace with two outs. He sent the first pitch he saw to third base, and Dezenzo booted it and allowed Tolbert and Wilson to score.
That made the fans and the Hooks dugout a little nervous with the timely hitting Shield’s ballclub has exhibited in the second half of this season. Luca Tresh was up, and he was 2-4 with two runs driven in and two runs scored before this at bat. He took strike one and would foul the next two pitches off; he would take a ball high and outside for ball one to make the count 2-1. He fouled a pitch off that was in the fat part of the plate, and Cole McDonald was lucky Tresh didn’t make him pay for leaving a pitch down Broadway. McDonald would return to that spot again; this time, Tresh went down swinging to end the game, 9-8 Hooks.
The Natural’s William Fleming got the nod and had an outing tonight that he would like to forget. He gave up home runs to Zach Dezenzo, C.J. Stubbs, and Jordan Brewer tonight. He gave up five runs, all earned and walked four batters, and struck out four more. The last time he gave up three home runs in a game was in 2022 when he pitched for the Modesto Nuts of the California North Pacific low single-A league.
NWA would strike first blood with a Javier Vaz single, and that scored Luca Tresh for a 1-0 lead. Corpus Christi answered with a solo home run by Stubbs to even the score at one each.
Tresh would crush his 10th home run of the season in the 4th inning. It was a 0-1 fastball that was middle up, and he sent the two-run shot sailing over the left field wall for a 3-1 lead.
Fleming would surrender a single round-tripper to Dezenzo in the bottom half of the 4th frame and a ground rule double again to Stubbs to tie it up at 3-3. Brewer came up in the bottom half of the 6th inning and sent a 1-1 pitch that was middle up, out over center field, to extend the lead to 5-3.
NWA would mount their first rally; the second was the failed attempt in the 9th mentioned above, with the small ball tactics. Bradley and Bonifacio collected two-out RBI singles to even the scoreboard at 5-5.
The big dagger that hurt the Naturals was the Hook’s four-run rally, all scored with two outs in the bottom of the 7th inning off of journeyman Justin Anderson from the NWA bullpen. That would break a 5-5 tie, and the inning before, the Naturals plated two runs of their own with two outs to tie it up in the top of the 6th inning. The camera panned over to the Natural’s dugout, and you could see the visible torment on skipper Tommy Shields’s face as he looked at the field of play. It was one of a guy wondering if his team would ever catch a break.
The Naturals fell into second place after a Whichta win tonight and now sit 0.5 games back out of first. Game five of this final trip to Corpus Christi will continue on Saturday, and the first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.