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Playoff-bound Travelers beat Naturals to close regular season

by Paul Boyd | September 18, 2023 at 2:20 a.m.
Michael Peoples meets with a pitcher on the mound at Dickey Stephens-Park in Little Rock in this undated courtesy photo. (Courtesy photo/Arkansas Travelers, Mark Wagner)

SPRINGDALE -- Arkansas scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning, including a three-run home run, to snap a 3-3 tie en route to a 7-3 win over Northwest Arkansas in the final regular-season game on Sunday afternoon at Arvest Ballpark.

Josh Morgan appeared to have given the Travelers a 5-3 lead with an RBI single, but umpires got together after the play and called it a three-run home run, his ninth of the season, for a 7-3 Arkansas lead.

The umpires went to explain the call to Naturals Manager Tommy Shields and ended up ejecting Shields.

Shields said he saw the ball hit the top of the padded wall.

"If it hits the metal, it's going to bounce back much further," Shields said.

Arkansas took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth as Jonatan Clase walked, stole second and third and scored on Tyler Locklear's triple off Naturals reliever Ryan Kaufman.

Arkansas, which won the Texas League North Division first-half title, will now head to Springfield to face the Cardinals in the playoffs beginning on Tuesday. Games 2 and, if necessary, 3 will be at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock on Thursday and Friday. Starting times will be at 6:35 p.m. The Naturals' season came to an end.

Arkansas reliever Alex Valverde (2-2) picked up the win. He tossed four scoreless innings, allowing two hits, while striking out two and walking two. Kaufman (0-3) took the loss, allowing three runs on just one hit in two-thirds of an inning. He walked three and struck out one.

The Travelers grabbed a 3-2 lead with three straight two-out hits in the top of the third. Second baseman Kaden Polcovich drove in a run with an RBI single to left field. But Northwest Arkansas came back to tie it 3-3 in the bottom of the inning as Peyton Wilson doubled, moved to third on Jorge Bonifacio's fly ball and scored as Cayden Wallace brought him in with a sacrifice fly.

Wilson went 2 f0r 4, drove in a run and scored twice for the Naturals.

Arkansas jumped to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Leo Rivas led off with a walk and scored on Clase's double down the third-base line. Clase stole third and scored on Locklear's groundout.

The Naturals tied it 2-2 in the bottom of the first. Wilson and Wallace each had RBI doubles in the inning.

Clase, Locklear and Robert Perez Jr. finished with two hits each for the Travelers. Locklear drove in two and scored twice, while Morgan drove in three.

Print Headline: Travs beat Nats in season finale


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