NW Arkansas lost Game 1 of the best-of-five Texas League Championship to host Midland, 5-2.
It was a prime matchup of lefties and former teammates, as Sean Manaea made his first start against his former team since being traded to Oakland. Jonathan Dziedzic got the start for the Naturals.
The Naturals got to Manaea in the top of the third. Raul Mondesi doubled in the game’s first run and scored on an Alex Liddi ground out.
Dziedzic had a no-hitter before allowing a one out solo home run in the bottom of the third. Midland tied the game at 2-2 on a two out single.
The RockHounds chased Dziedzic from the game in the fourth, as he wild pitched the go ahead run in (after two walks). In came Malcom Culver, who allowed a two-run single.
Meanwhile, Manaea lasted eight innings, allowing those two unearned runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven.
NWA brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Mondesi grounded out to end the game.
The Naturals out-hit the RockHounds, 9-5, but went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, hit into two double plays, and struck out eight times. Bubba Starling, Hunter Dozier, and Parker Morin each had two hits in the loss.
Kevin McCarthy followed Culver with two perfect innings of relief (26 pitches, 17 strikes). Sam Selman walked one over two scoreless innings. Both struck out two.
Midland will host Game 2 on Wednesday night, as Chris Jensen faces Paul Clemens for the Naturals. Clemens will be making his first postseason start for NWA.