WICHITA, KS – The Northwest Arkansas Naturals went back-and-forth with the Wichita Wind Surge but scored three unanswered runs en route to a 6-3 win at Riverfront Stadium.
C.J. Alexander led the way offensively, as the Northwest Arkansas designated hitter went 3-for-5 with four runs batted in.
Alexander connected on a two-run homer in the fifth to put the Naturals ahead at the time 3-2, then drove in two runs of insurance on a single in the ninth that pushed the score to the 6-3 that held to be final.
The Naturals struck first in the game, as catcher Luca Tresh scored on a wild pitch in the second. Wichita countered immediately, scoring two runs to take the lead, then added a third in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game back up after Alexander’s home run.
Tresh put the Naturals ahead for good in the eighth inning, as he connected on a solo home run to left field that put the Naturals ahead for good, at the time 4-3.
Right fielder Seuly Matias and Tresh each contributed two-hit games in the win, while center fielder Diego Hernandez and Alexander each combined three-hit efforts.
Starting pitcher T.J. Sikkema delivered a strong start, allowing three runs over 5.0 innings with five strikeouts, after working out of a difficult second inning. Wichita scored twice and loaded the bases, but Sikkema pitched out of the inning with three strikeouts, though needing 38 pitches to get out of the jam. The left-hander settled down and allowed just the run in the fifth inning, only using 20 pitches for his last nine outs, including a 1-2-3 sixth inning on six pitches.
After Sikkema was lifted, left-hander Walter Pennington fired two scoreless innings and struck out four, to earn his sixth win of the year. Right-hander Nate Webb pitched two scoreless innings as well and struck out three to earn his first save of the season.
Combined, the three arms struck out 12 batters, the staff’s highest single-game total in over a month. The 4.0 scoreless innings lowered the bullpen’s ERA in September to 2.03 (6 ER in 26.2 IP) this month.
Northwest Arkansas will try and secure at least a split in the series Friday at 7:05 p.m. CT as right-hander Jon Bowlan takes the mound.
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