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Three pitchers combine on eight-hit shutout
09/19/2010 12:45 AM ET
MIDLAND, TX - Will Smith, a pitcher with not an inning to his credit during the regular season, got credited with the win as the Naturals shutout the Midland RockHounds 2-0 to win the first Texas League Championship Series crown in the franchise's short but decorated history.

Northwest Arkansas, which has been a member of the Texas League for three seasons and has made the playoffs all three years, dumped the 'Hounds in four games one year to the day the RockHounds celebrated their own championship over the Naturals at Arvest Ballpark.

This time, it was once again the vistors doing the celebrating and this time it was the Naturals, who have been the best team in the Texas League, record-wise, since they entered the circuit.

The hero of the day was southpaw Will Smith (1-0), who traversed the country this season pitching for four different minor league clubs in two organizations stretching from Advanced Class-A Rancho Cucamonga to Advanced Class-A Wilmington. He landed in Northwest Arkansas for the playoffs and was making just his second start for the Naturals. He tossed 6 2/3 economical innings, working around seven hits and a pair of walks before handing the ball off to ace relievers Henry Barrera and Patrick Keating.

The infield defense, led by Chris McConnell, whose stellar glovework at shortstop can't be overlooked in this series, also served as a key element to the win, turning two double plays to help preserve the shutout.

And just like several of the playoff games, Anthony Seratelli had a major role, playing excellent defense at third base and going 3-for-4. His leadoff triple to start the fifth was the most important element to his night, however. Ryan Eigsti followed that triple with an RBI groundout to put the Naturals up 1-0.

The next run didn't come without some controversy. Johnny Giavotella singled with two out in the eighth and moved to second on a wild pitch by Midland starter Matt Wright. Eric Hosmer followed and singled to center, just to the left of the second base bag.

Giavotella scored on the play to put Northwest Arkansas up 2-0, but after he came in umpires ruled that the batted ball off the bat of Hosmer hit Giavotella's back foot after he left second. Naturals' skipper Brian Poldberg argued the call, which was reversed after the umpires huddled to discuss. Midland's manager Darren Bush was then ejected by first base umpire Brett Robson after a lengthy argument.

That was the second member of the RockHounds to get tossed Saturday. Catcher Petey Paramore earned his second ejection of the four-game series for arguing balls and strikes after home plate umpire Dan Oliver rung him up in the third inning.

Hosmer's RBI single spelled the end for Matt Wright (0-1), a veteran righty who spent last season in the Kansas City Royals' system with Triple-A Omaha. Wright ended up the hard luck loser, allowing the two runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings. He didn't walk anyone and fanned one.

After Smith departed the game, Barrera retired all four batters he faced in order and Keating worked around a leadoff double by Alex Valdez in the ninth to record his fourth save of the post-season.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. The Naturals have a toll-free ticket hotline (1-877-444-2637) for fans to purchase Naturals tickets. Our website, nwanaturals.com offers fans the opportunity to purchase tickets online and avoid lines at the ticket windows by printing their tickets at home or at the office.

 

 

 

 
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