Double-A NW Arkansas blew an early lead, losing 16-8 in Game 4 of the Texas League Division Series in Tulsa. The two teams will play a win-or-go-home Game 5 on Sunday to determine the North Division champs and who will head to the TL Championship Series.
The Naturals led 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth. They scored two runs each in the third and fourth innings. In the fourth, Jack Lopez drove in both runs with a two out single (he went 2-for-4 in his third multi-hit game of the playoffs).
They then fought back to tie the game at 8-8 in the sixth (after Tulsa scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth), only to see the Drillers re-take the lead in the bottom of the sixth. In the top of the 6th inning, the Naturals received the second RBI single of the game for Samir Duenez, followed by a three-run home run from Ryan O’Hearn.
Unfortunately, the Naturals pitching left a lot to be desired.
Starter Zach Lovvorn allowed four runs on six hits over 4.2 innings. He struck out two. Walker Sheller, making his playoffs debut, did not record an out in the fifth, pitching to six batters. Sheller allowed an RBI double (which allowed an inherited run to score), a two-run home run, two singles (one drove in a run), and a run scoring wild pitch.
Matt Tenuta recorded the final out in the 5th inning, but allowed two runs on a hit batter and two hits (after getting the first two hitters out) in the sixth. Jason Adam struck out the side in the seventh around a hit and a walk, but fell apart in the 8th inning: five hits, two intentional walks, a normal walk, and a run scoring wild pitch to give up six runs. Backup catcher Parker Morin entered with two on and one out and got two fly outs to finally end the bottom of the eighth.
The Naturals offense went down quietly in the ninth, with all three batters striking out (they struck out 11 times). Leadoff hitter Donnie Dewees went 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Mauricio Ramos and Duenez also had two hits in the loss. Alfredo Escalera went 3-for-5.
*In the other TLDS, Midland scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to also force a decisive Game 5. Both games will be played Sunday night.