Congratulations go out to manager Brian Poldberg and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals who defeated the Midland Rockhounds 2-0 tonight to win the Texas League Championship Series three games to one.
Will Smith pitched 6.2 scoreless innings with six strikeouts to earn the clinching win. Smith, you’ll remember, was one of the arms the Royals got from the Angels in return for Alberto Callaspo.
The series wasn’t without a share of drama, as the Naturals hadn’t scored through the first seven innings until Eric Hosmer hit a two run homer to give them the lead in the top of the eighth. It was his sixth homer of the postseason after he’d hit five in the five game series against Springfield. The clutch hit helped reward the Naturals starter John Lamb, who’d pitched 6.2 innings of one run ball but was on the hook to be the tough luck loser. Henry Barrera and Patrick Keating closed out the rest of the game (as they did in the series finale).
The Naturals were led by strong hitting by Hosmer, Clint Robinson and shortstop Anthony Seratelli (who was 3-4 in game four). The trio combined to hit .326 with 28 RBI and 13 homers in the playoffs. Johnny Giavotella also hit 11-31 over the course of the playoffs.
Northwest Arkansas starters (Danny Duffy, Will Smith, John Lamb, Everett Teaford, and Mike Montgomery) combined for 51 innings pitched at a 2.29 combined ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio. Duffy struck out 15 in 10.2 innings over two starts.
Many of these players will be in Omaha next season at one point or another, and the hope is that the march to victory will continue beyond that as they all develop as players. Here’s hoping they keep it up once they get to Kansas City.