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Drillers Drop Series Finale Against Travelers

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The Drillers lost the series finale against the Arkansas Travelers Sunday night by a final score of 9-8.

The series was the second between the two teams at ONEOK Field in as many weeks. Coincidentally, the results of the series were identical. Just as the series played out last week, the two teams again split their games in Tulsa, with the Drillers again winning the first two games of the series and the Travelers taking the latter two.

Despite out-hitting the Travelers 15 to 10, the Drillers suffered the loss, in large part due to four crucial errors on defense.

In mirrored form of Saturday night's game, Arkansas took its first lead of the game in the eighth inning, added to it in the ninth and survived a bottom of the ninth threat from the Drillers.

The Drillers took little time in getting on the scoreboard. Tyler Massey reached first on a one-out single and then proceeded to steal second and third base, his team leading 18th stolen base. With two outs, Ryan Casteel slapped an opposite field line drive that dropped into right field to score Massey.

A pair of Tulsa errors helped the Travelers quickly tie the game in the top of the second. Matt Long led off the inning by reaching first on a fielding error by second baseman Joey Wong. Long would then advance to third base on an errant pickoff throw from Richard Castillo two batters later and would score on a base-hit from Drew Heid.

The Drillers retook a one-run lead in the bottom half of the second when Brian Humphries led off with his fifth triple of the season and came home on a wild pitch from Arkansas starter Drew Rucinski.

In the fourth inning, Casteel picked up his second hit of the night by leading off with a double to right field. Trevor Story then took a 1-0 pitch high and deep over the left field wall for his second home run as a Driller, putting Tulsa up 4-1.

The defensive miscues continued to haunt the Drillers in the fifth inning and allowed Arkansas to tie the game at four. After Eric Stamets drew a one-out walk, a wild pitch from Castillo allowed him to move to second. Maikol Gonzalez then singled back up the middle to score Stamets from second.

After Castillo got Yarbrough to ground out to first base, Delta Cleary Jr. missed a routine fly ball off the bat of Brian Hernandez for what would have been the third out of the inning, allowing Gonzalez to score from second. Mike Bianucci furthered the damage of the error by ripping a double to left field and scoring Hernandez.

Cleary Jr. made up for his error, however, as he led off with a single and quickly stole second base in the bottom half of the inning. Jayson Langfels then drove home Cleary Jr. with a base knock to right field to allow Tulsa to retake the lead. Langfels repeated Cleary Jr.'s run-scoring formula by also stealing second and scoring on an RBI single from Casteel, putting the Drillers up 6-4.

Once again, defense plagued the Drillers in the sixth inning. Los Angeles Angels top prospect Kaleb Cowart scored from second after shortstop Trevor Story misplayed a ground ball.

The Travelers took their first lead of the game in the top of the eighth. Centerfielder Matt Long led off the inning with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch from reliever Kraig Sitton and scored on a base hit from Anderson De La Rosa that deflected off of second baseman Wong's glove.

De La Rosa moved to third on consecutive ground outs and then scored on a two-out single on a line drive to left field from Eric Stamets that gave Arkansas a 7-6 lead.

Arkansas seemingly put the game out of reach in the top of the ninth inning. After Brian Hernandez drew a walk to begin the inning, Mike Bianucci continued his terror of the Drillers. Bianucci blasted a deep home run that landed under the scoreboard in left-center field to give the Travelers a 9-6 lead.

It was Bianucci's fifth home run against the Drillers in fewer than two weeks. Bianucci had also already hit an RBI double earlier in the game and also provided the game winning RBI on a double in Saturday night's contest.

The Drillers nearly completed a comeback in the ninth, scoring twice in the bottom of the inning. Wong led off the inning with a slump-breaking double to left field, his first hit since June 30. Cleary Jr. followed with a single to put runners on the corners. After Cleary Jr. stole second, a wild pitch from Jairo Diaz allowed Wong to score and Cleary Jr. to move to third. Cleary Jr. then scored on Massey's ground out.

Casteel, representing the tying run, would reach second base on an infield single and a throwing error by Arkansas third baseman Cowart, who was attempting to throw out Casteel at first.

Taylor Featherston, who had the night off, pinch ran for Casteel and reached third base on another wild pitch from Diaz. Unfortunately for Tulsa, that would be as close as the tying run would get, as Diaz struck out Story to end the ball game, which was four minutes shy of four hours in completion.

Because of the multiple errors, Tulsa starter Castillo was only charged with one earned run in his five innings of work, despite the Travelers accumulating four runs while Castillo was on the mound. The Venezuelan allowed five hits and one walk and struck out one.

Broken Arrow native Drew Rucinski started for the Travelers and was uncharacteristically ineffective against Tulsa. Rucinski, who pitched for the Los Angeles Angels only ten days ago, gave up six earned runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings of work. The former Union High School hurler did however strike out seven Tulsa batters and did not record a walk.

Casteel led the way for the Drillers on offense with four hits and two RBI, while Humphries, Cleary Jr. and Langfels all also had multiple hits.

Tulsa will now travel to Springfield for a three-game series with the Cardinals beginning Monday. Carlos Hernandez (3-4, 2.74 ERA) will start for the Drillers and take on Springfield's Kurt Heyer (3-7, 4.80 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM.


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