The reputation of the Amarillo Sod Poodles homefield of Hodgetown as a hitter's paradise certainly lived up to the hype Thursday night.

But the bad news is that their opponents get to hit there too, and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals took advantage of that to leave Amarillo with a series victory in the first ever meeting between the two squads.

Northwest Arkansas hit three home runs to approximately the same spot in left field, which accounted for all but of the runs the Naturals scored. That added up to a 10-8 victory as the Sod Poodles dropped their first series to the Naturals.

The Naturals got to Amarillo starter Ronald Bolanos for five runs in the first inning and the Sod Poodles (31-33) never recovered. While Amarillo manager Phillip Wellman will acknowledge that Hodgetown is a hitter's park, he thought the explanation for the Northwest Arkansas offensive output was simpler.

"It's bad pitching," Wellman said. "Everybody in the ballpark knows which way the wind blows. The tone of the game was set in the first inning."

The Naturals (30-35) got four straight hits with one out to jump on top. Kahlil Lee and Anderson Miller both drove in runs with singles off Balanos, who on a full count, gave up a three-run homer to left to Taylor Featherston to make it 5-0.

Later, Balanos gave up another three-run homer, this one to Meibrys Viloria in the third inning to make it 8-2 and he was pulled after three innings. It was a far cry from the Sod Poodles debut Balanos made last week in beating Corpus Christi.

"I think you need to make pitches no matter where you are," Wellman said. "This isn't the only ballpark in the league which plays small."

The Sod Poodles went deep once, on a solo homer to left by Kyle Overstreet which got them on the board in the bottom of the second.

They cut the lead to 8-5 in the bottom of the third as the first four batters reached base against Brady Singer, who's the top prospect of the Kansas City Royals, the Naturals parent organization. Luis Torrens had the big hit with a two-run double to center.

Singer also wasn't around at the end, as both starters were lifted after three innings. Amarillo's bullpen pitched well for the final six innings, with only Angelo Castellano's two-run homer off Blake Rogers ruining the ledger and giving Northwest Arkansas a 10-5 lead.

They threatened in the ninth, as the first three batters reached against reliever Franco Terrero and Owen Miller drove in a run with a double. Luis Torrens drove home another run with a sacrifice fly to right, and with two outs, Brad Zunica's single drove in Miller to cut it to 10-8.

Emilio Ogando relieved Terrero and got Buddy Reed to ground into the hole at short, but Featherston threw out Reed to end the game.

"I was just happy right there that we were able to just get guys on base," Wellman said. "We gave them a run."

The Sod Poodles stranded five runners on base in the seventh and eighth after Naturals pitchers retired 12 straight hitters.

TONIGHT'S STARTER: The Sod Poodles will send out right-hander Kyle Lloyd (2-2, 3.82 ERA) to open a three-game series against the Tulsa Drillers at 7:05 p.m. at Hodgetown. This is the first time the two teams will play this season.

 

Naturals 10, Sod Poodles 8

Northwest Arkansas ab r h bi Amarillo ab r h bi

Heath dh 4 1 1 0 Van Gansen 3b 2 0 0 0

Jones 1b 5 0 1 0 Baker 3b 2 0 0 0

Lee cf 4 1 2 1 Castillo 2b 3 2 2 0

Rivera 3b 5 2 2 0 Olivares rf 5 2 1 0

A. Miller lf 5 2 2 1 O. Miller ss 4 2 2 1

Featherston ss 4 1 2 3 Torrens c 4 0 1 3

Viloria c 4 1 1 3 Overstreet 1b 5 1 2 1

Peterson rf 3 1 1 0 Zunica dh 4 1 1 1

Castellano 2b 3 1 1 2 Reed cf 3 0 0 0

      Kohlwey lf 4 0 1 1

Totals 37 10 13 10 Totals 36 8 10 7

Northwest Arkansas 503 002 000 — 10

Amarillo 023 000 003 — 8

E—A. Miller, Featherston, Rivera, Baker, Overstreet. DP—Northwest Arkansas 1, Amarillo 4. LOB—Northwest Arkansas 4, Amarillo 9. 2B—Jones, Torrens, O. Miller. 3B—Castillo. HR—Featherston (6), Viloria (1), Castellano (3), Overstreet (3). S—Reed. SF—Torrens. SB—Lee, Heath. CS—Lee.

NW Arkansas IP H R ER BB SO

Singer 3.0 4 5 4 2 2

Sotillet W, 3-1 3.1 0 0 0 1 2

Marte 1.2 2 0 0 2 1

Terrero 0.2 4 3 3 0 0

Ogando S, 2 0.1 0 0 0 0 0

Amarillo IP H R ER BB SO

Bolanos L, 1-1 3.0 8 8 8 1 2

Rogers 3.0 4 2 2 1 4

Valdez 2.0 1 0 0 1 2

Bednar 1.0 0 0 0 0 1

WP—Marte. HBP—by Rogers (Castellano), by Singer (O. Miller). T—3:03. Attn.—6,962.