SPRINGDALE -- Northwest Arkansas used home runs by Blake Perkins, Dairon Blanco, and Freddy Fermin to overpowered Wichita on Thursday.
Perkins hit a grand slam to follow a three-run homer by Blanco as the Naturals surged past Wichita 12-1 before an announced crowd of 2,294 at Arvest Ballpark. Blanco's home run came in the second inning to give Northwest Arkansas a 4-0 lead and Perkins hit a grand slam in the fifth inning to highlight a six-run outburst. Fermin then contributed a solo home run in the sixth to put the Naturals ahead 11-0.
Austin Cox (3-1) earned the victory over Bryan Sammons (2-4) for Wichita. Cox went six innings and allowed one hit after holding Wichita hitless through four innings. Spencer Steer hit a home run in the eighth inning for the only run for the Double-A Central North Division-leading Wind Surge.
"I thought the guys played great," Northwest Arkansas Manager Scott Thorman said. "Cox was incredible, allowing one hit in six innings. He really picked us up."
Blanco changed his approach after trying to bunt his way on base in the first inning.
Blanco swung away in the second inning and blasted a long home run over the bullpen in left field. The homer was the eighth of the season for Blanco, who stood temporarily to admire his shot before circling the bases to give the Naturals a 4-0 lead.
"That (home run) was a big one for us," Thorman said. "Then, Perkins hit the grand slam and put the nail in the coffin."
Thursday's game was quite a contrast from Wednesday when the Naturals (38-36) fell behind 8-1 and lost 8-5 to the Wind Surge (43-32).
Singles by Govern and Brewer Hicklen helped produced a 1-0 for Northwest Arkansas in the second inning. No. 9 hitter Austin Dennis grounded out to bring up Blanco, the leadoff hitter, who's bunt attempted was fielded for an easy out by Wichita first baseman Roy Morales in the first. Blanco dug in the second time around and slammed a long home run to left field, which delighted the crowd on Thirsty Thursday night at the ball park.
Perkins' grand slam came in the fifth inning when Northwest Arkansas increased its lead to 10-0.
Cox held Wichita to without a hit until Ernie Dea La Trinidad blooped an opposite-field in the fifth inning to put runners on first and second. But Cox retired the next three batters on two popups and a strike out to end the inning. He struck out seven and walked four before leaving to start the seventh inning.
Northwest Arkansas outhit Wichita 11-3 and three Naturals pitchers combined to strike out 12 batters for the Wind Surge.
WICHITA WIND SURGE AT NW ARKANSAS NATURALS
WHEN 7:05 p.m.
WHERE Arvest Ballpark, Springdale
PITCHERS Wichita — RHP Jordan Balazovic (3-1, 2.74 ERA). Northwest Arkansas — Foster Griffen (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
TICKETS Home Plate Super Premium Ticket – $14.75; Dugout Super Premium Ticket – $13.75; Dugout Premium Ticket – $11.75; 1B/3B Reserved Ticket – $9.75; Grass Berm/General Admission – $8.75.
PROMOTIONS Sinker ‘The Elf’ Bobblehead giveaway to the first 750 fans in attendance at Arvest Ballpark. Gates open at 5:45 p.m.
NATURALS THIS WEEK
TODAY vs. Wichita, 7:05 p.m.
SATURDAY vs. Wichita, 6:05 p.m.
SUNDAY vs. Wichita, 2:05 p.m.
TUESDAY at Arkansas, 7:10 p.m.
WEDNESDAY at Arkansas, 5:10 p.m.
THURSDAY at Arkansas, 7:10 p.m.