Drillers Bounce Back With Win Against Naturals
SPRINGDALE, Arkansas - The Tulsa Drillers took the second game of a four-game series with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale Monday night by a final score of 6-4.
The contest was not the cleanest, as it saw five errors (two for Tulsa, three for Northwest Arkansas), three wild pitches (all from Tulsa), a balk and an ejection.
The Drillers got off to a great start, thanks in part due to a defensive miscue from Northwest Arkansas. Delta Cleary Jr. led off the game and reached base on a fielding error by Naturals first baseman Max Ramirez. The speedy Cleary Jr. proceeded to steal second and moved to third on a single by Christhian Adames.
In the next at-bat, Taylor Featherston catapulted his team-leading 24th double over the head of left fielder Justin Trapp to clear the bases and put Tulsa up 2-0.
Still at 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, an interesting play occurred. Micah Gibbs reached first after Will Swanner was charged with a missed catch error. Tulsa manager Kevin Riggs adamantly disagreed with the call, however, and was ejected after arguing with first base umpire Clay Park.
The Drillers extended their lead to 3-0 in the top of the fifth, but missed an opportunity to put more runs on the board. After Adames led off with a single, Featherston tripled to right field to easily score Adames. However, Andy Ferguson would get Brian Humphries to ground out and then struck out the next two batters to strand Featherston at third.
The Naturals responded by manufacturing a run in the home half of the fifth. Ethan Chapman reached on an infield bunt single, moved to second on a sac bunt and scored on Orlando Calixte's base knock.
The teams would again exchange blows by each scoring one run in the seventh inning. Delta Cleary Jr. led off the top of the seventh with his second home run of the season.
For Northwest Arkansas, Chapman again used his speed to produce a run. After another infield single, Chapman stole second and scored on Angel Franco's ensuing hit back up the middle.
For the third time in the game, the two teams would again score one apiece in the same inning, this time in the eighth inning. One of Tulsa's new additions, Will Swanner, led off the top of the eighth with a double after a high chopper defected off of the outstretched glove of Calixte and allowed Swanner to take an extra base.
Tyler Massey then laid down a sac bunt and reached base on reliever Scott Alexander's errant throw. With runners at the corners, the other new Driller, Chris O'Dowd, put the ball in play and scored Swanner on an RBI fielder's choice.
In the bottom of the eighth, Hunter Dozier led off with a double and moved to third on a balk charged to Tulsa reliever Nate Striz. Kraig Sitton then entered the game in relief of Striz, but threw two wild pitches when facing Justin Trapp, with Dozier scoring on the first of the two.
Fittingly, both teams would score once in the top of the ninth, the fourth time in the game that each team scored one run in the same inning.
The Drillers' run came with some help from the Naturals defense, as Jose Rivera reached second leading off the inning on a throwing error from Calixte. Rivera eventually scored from third on Adames's sac fly after moving over on a sac bunt.
The Naturals would threaten in the bottom of the inning. Down 6-3, Chapman led off with a double off of Cole White and moved to third on another wild pitch. Chapman then scored on an RBI ground out from Franco. However, White struck out the next two batters to end the game and record his seventh save for the Drillers.
Tulsa starter Carlos Hernandez was magnificent once again. The lefty pitched six innings, allowing only one run on five hits and two walks while striking out six. Hernandez also picked up his second straight win to improve to 3-4.
The top of the order led the Tulsa offense, as Cleary Jr., Adames and Featherston (the one, two and three hitters, respectively) all recorded two hits apiece and combined for four of Tulsa's run and five of Tulsa's RBI, with Featherston driving in half of the Drillers' runs. Will Swanner recorded two hits as well in his first start for Tulsa.
The teams will continue their series in Springdale Tuesday night. Jon Gray (8-4, 3.77 ERA) will go for the Drillers and will face the Naturals' J.C. Sulbaran (6-6, 3.10 ERA). First pitch at Arvest Ballpark is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.