The Tulsa Drillers opened the second-half of the Texas League season Tuesday night with a big comeback at ONEOK Field. The Drillers spotted Springfield an early five-run lead before responding with nine straight runs, including seven in their final two at-bats, to post a 9-5 victory over the first-half champion Cardinals. The victory came in the second-half opener for both teams.
The night did not begin promisingly for the Drillers as the Cardinals scored five times in the bottom of the fourth to take a big, early lead. The inning began with three consecutive singles that loaded the bases. A fourth straight hit from Jonathan Rodriguez plated the game's first run before a walk to Anthony Garcia forced home a second run.
Consecutive run-scoring singles from Mike Ohlman and Mason Katz made it 4-0. The fifth and final run scored when Mason Katz grounded into a double play.
It would the final offensive production of the night for the Redbirds, and the Drillers comeback began in the bottom half of the fourth when they answered with two runs of their own. Willie Calhoun led off with a single, but was still at first base with two outs. Shawn Zarraga kept the inning alive with a base hit, and Kyle Garlick followed with a double that scored both runners to cut the Springfield lead to 5-2.
Tulsa completely erased the deficit with a four-run, two-out rally in the seventh inning. Jordan Tarsovich drew a walk from reliever Chris Thomas to open the inning, then moved into scoring position when Andrew Toles was hit by a pitch.
With two outs, Calhoun singled home Tarsovich, before Alex Verdugo scored Toles with another hit that pulled the Drillers to within one. Zarraga delivered his second hit of the night to plate Tarsovich and tie the game before the Drillers took the lead when Thomas uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Verdugo to race home to make it 6-5.
The Drillers added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to cap the comeback win. Lars Anderson drew a leadoff walk, and Toles singled. A throwing error by second baseman Katz on a potential double-play grounder allowed Anderson to score. A wild pitch and a ground out produced the final two runs and completed the nine-run comeback.
Tulsa starting pitcher Jeremy Kehrt opened the game with three perfect innings before running into trouble in the five-run fourth from the Redbirds. Overall, Kehrt worked six innings, surrendering the five runs on eight hits.
The rally from the Drillers made a winner out of reliever Michael Johnson to improve his record to 2-1. Johnson retired all three batters he faced in the seventh inning.
Daniel Corcino closed the game with two perfect frames of work as the Cardinals were set down in order in five of their nine at-bats.
The two teams will play the final game of their four-game set Wednesday night at ONEOK Field with Tulsa needing a win to salvage a series split. The pitching matchup will feature Scott Barlow (3-4, 2.71 ERA) for Drillers against Daniel Poncedeleon (4-4, 2.69 ERA) of the Cardinals. Starting time for the finale is scheduled for 7:05pm.