The Tulsa Drillers came into Friday's game fresh off a three-game sweep of the Frisco RoughRiders while riding a five-game winning streak, which was their longest of the season. But the Midland RockHounds proved why they have been the Texas League champions the past two years as they got just enough offense as they defeated the Drillers 2-1 at ONEOK Field.
Brock Stewart turned in the longest outing of the year by a Drillers starter as he ended up going 7.1 innings while racking up nine strikeouts for the second straight start. Stewart came into the game leading the Texas League in both strikeouts per nine innings and ERA, and he did nothing to hurt his standings with his performance Friday night.
Following a scoreless three innings to begin the game, the RockHounds got on the board first thanks to a Drillers miscue.
The inning began when shortstop Brandon Trinkwon misfired to first on a groundball, allowing Brett Vertigan to reach second. Vertigan moved to third on a base hit from Yairo Munoz and then came around to score when Midland executed a perfect hit-and-run to go up 1-0.
The Drillers responded in the home half of the frame though as Willie Calhoun and Kyle Farmer led off the inning with back-to-back base hits. Two batters later, Jacob Scavuzzo tied the game at 1-1 when he lined an RBI single into left field to score Calhoun.
Stewart and Midland starter Joey Wagman traded zeros in the fifth before the RockHounds pulled back ahead in the sixth.
Vertigan and Munoz were in the middle of the action yet again as the duo both reached base via infield singles to start the action. Matt Chapman then plated Vertigan with a base hit to left to put the RockHounds back in front 2-1.
That would be all Midland could get against Stewart as the right-hander got out of the inning before dominating the seventh inning, striking out the side.
But on the other side of the diamond, Wagman kept the Drillers off balance at the plate by utilizing a variety of pitches and speeds. Whenever the Drillers would try to mount a rally, it seemed as if a double play would inevitably follow as the RockHounds recorded three groundball double plays in the game. It was just the second time this year that the Drillers hit into three twin-killings with the only other time happening in a loss to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals back on April 23.
Tulsa manager Ryan Garko sent Stewart back out to begin the eighth inning, but reliever Frankie Montas would finish the inning. The rehabbing big leaguer came on for Stewart with a man on first and one out and blew Midland away, striking out four of the five batters he faced, featuring a fastball that got up to 99 mph.
Kyle Finnegan relieved Wagman in the seventh, but the Drillers were still unable to string together any kind of offense against the Midland hurlers. Finnegan allowed just two hits over his 2.2 innings of relief to close out the game, bringing an end to the Drillers longest winning streak of the year.
Wagman earned his first victory of the year for Midland while Finnegan was credited with his first save of the year after his solid relief work for the visitors. Stewart was saddled with the loss despite turning in his sixth consecutive quality start.
Farmer led the Drillers at the plate as the Tulsa catcher went 3-4 on the night while Calhoun, Scavuzzo and Paul Hoenecke also recorded multi-hit performances.
The Drillers and RockHounds will continue their series on Saturday as Tulsa looks to begin a new winning streak. Getting the start for Tulsa will be RHP Trevor Oaks (4-1, 3.00 ERA) while Midland will send out RHP Joel Seddon (1-3, 7.54 ERA.) There will be postgame fireworks for the second straight night as a part of the Memorial Day Weekend celebrations with first pitch scheduled for 7:05PM at ONEOK Field.