The Tulsa Drillers reclaimed first place in the Texas League North Division on Wednesday night. Tulsa came away with a 10-3 victory in North Little Rock over the Arkansas Travelers. Combine that with a Springfield Cardinals loss, and now the Drillers lead the Cardinals by a half game with 5 games remaining in the first half, 2 of which will be against the Springfield Cardinals at ONEOK Field.
A quality start turned in by Chase De Jong, coupled with a cascade of hits from the Drillers lineup led to the victory. Tulsa piled on 18 hits in the victory, including a 5-hit effort from center fielder Andrew Toles. Toles was robbed of his sixth hit of the night on a line drive that was snagged by Travelers shortstop Anthony Phillips with two outs and the bases loaded in the 8th inning.
Toles first hit of the evening led off the night, with a lead-off triple in the top of the first inning. Willie Calhoun quickly turned that triple into a run with a sacrifice fly, giving the Drillers a quick 1-0 lead.
Catcher Paul Hoenecke led off the 2nd inning with a double and was plated by Toles on a single to increase the Drillers lead to 2-0.
The lead would not last, as the Travelers were able to tack on a pair of runs in the bottom half of the 2nd inning. A lead-off single from Eric Aguilera, followed by Stephen McGee reaching via an error by Drillers third baseman Adam Law, gave the Travelers a pair of runners, both of whom came around to score. Both runs would be ruled as unearned towards De Jong.
Tulsa got back on top in the fourth inning by sending all nine batters in the lineup to the plate.
After recording the first out, the Drillers had four straight batters reach base. A pair of infield singles, a hit-by-pitch, 2 more singles, and a sacrifice fly were the tools the Drillers used to string together three more runs to stretch their lead out to 5-2.
Travelers DH Jabari Henry led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a home run to bring the score to 5-3. This was the last run the Travelers would get on the night. In fact, Henry was the only Traveler to reach base after the 2nd inning in the ball game until a single from Stephen McGee in the 9th.
Willie Calhoun drove home two more in the top of the sixth inning after Adam Law and Andrew Toles led off the inning with a single and a ground-rule double, respectively. After the top of the sixth, the Drillers led 7-3.
Lars Anderson and Paul Hoenecke each had an RBI single in the top of the 8th inning to stretch the lead to 9-3.
Calhoun topped off his 5-RBI night with a solo home run in the top of the 9th inning, his 14th of the year. His 5-RBI night raised his total on the season to 45 RBIs.
De Jong cruised for most of the night, only having trouble with Jabari Henry in the heart of the Travelers order. On three occasions, De Jong retired the Travelers in 1-2-3 fashion.
The Drillers will look to extend their lead in the North Division on Thursday evening in a 7:10PM start against these same Arkansas Travelers. Jeremy Kehrt (0-2, 5.17 ERA) will take the ball for the Drillers while Victor Alcantara (2-3, 4.03 ERA) will be on the mound for the Travelers.