The Drillers continued to show a flair for the dramatic Friday night. Two nights after overcoming a seven-run deficit to beat the Springfield Cardinals at home, Tulsa rallied multiple times, both in regulation and in extra innings, to defeat the Arkansas Travelers 8-6 at Arvest Ballpark.
The bottom of the first inning was a preview of the exciting game in store as the Travs loaded the bases with two outs. But the Drillers and starter Jharel Cotton managed to overcome the adversity and escaped the inning without allowing a run.
Cotton struggled with his command throughout the night, walking seven in his five innings of work. But somehow, he was able to work around the base runners while not allowing a run to score, including pitching around the bases being loaded in both his first and last innings pitched.
Arkansas starter Nate Smith turned in a solid performance as he allowed just one run over six innings before turning the game over to his bullpen.
The Travs scored twice in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Ralston Cash for the first blown save of the night to take a 2-1 lead and put Smith in line for the win. But the game was far from over.
The Drillers tied the game in the eighth inning without a hit, thanks to the speed of pinch-runner Robbie Garvey. Known for his base-stealing prowess, Garvey came into the game after Jeremy Rathjen walked to start the inning. With everyone in the ballpark knowing his sole purpose, Garvey stole second before also swiping third for his fourth and fifth stolen bases since joining the Drillers just a week ago. He then scampered home on a sac fly from Kyle Farmer to tie the game up 2-2.
Both the Travs and the Drillers put runners in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings respectively but to no avail. After each side was unable to score again during regulation, the game went into extra innings.
After taking a three-run lead in the top of the tenth inning, things looked good for Tulsa. Ronald Torreyes scored the first run of the inning on a bases-loaded groundout from Farmer. Brian Burgamy then dropped an RBI single beyond the second baseman before Peter Lavin lofted a sac fly also to right field to put the Drillers up 5-2.
Jorge De Leon came on for the save opportunity, but could not hold the lead in the bottom half of the inning as Arkansas roared back. Following a leadoff double and walk from De Leon, Chad Hinshaw hit a two-RBI hit into left to score Erick Salcedo. A daring double steal put two more Travs in scoring position and outfielder Blake Gailen made the move pay off as he plated both runners to tie the game up. Gailen was gunned down at second trying to advance on the play by Drillers outfielder Yadir Drake, but the damage had been done.
The eleventh inning passed before Tulsa took the lead again in the twelfth with another extra-inning, three-run outburst.
Burgamy got the inning going with a one-out walk before Lavin grounded a single through the right side to put runners on the corners. Adam Law then hit a ground ball to shortstop that Arkansas attempted to turn into an inning-ending double play. But Law beat out the relay throw to first, allowing Burgamy to score to put Tulsa up 6-5. Brandon Trinkwon and Erisbel Arruebarrena followed with RBI knocks to send the game to the bottom of the twelfth with the Drillers leading 8-5.
Things did not come easy for the Drillers in the bottom half of the frame as Jacob Rhame, who had set the Travs down in order in the eleventh inning, issued six straight balls to begin the inning with a three-run lead. After Salcedo took second on defensive indifference, Drew Maggi plated him to draw Arkansas to within two. History seemed like it was about to repeat itself when Sherman Johnson hit a ground-rule double to right-center field to put the tying runs on second and third with no one out. But Rhame escaped the predicament with a strikeout, a pop-out and a groundout to strand the two runners and finally give Tulsa the hard-fought victory.
The twelve-inning, marathon contest ended at 11:59PM, a full 4 hours and 48 minutes after the first pitch had been thrown. The Travs left 17 men on base in the loss while the Driller stranded 11 on the night.
Rhame picked up the win for the Drillers after surviving the final two innings to seal the wild victory for Tulsa while Chris O'Grady took the loss for Arkansas.
The Drillers and Travs will tangle again Saturday night as they play the third game of their four-game set against each other. Tulsa will trot out Julio Urias (1-3, 3.29 ERA) for his second start since returning from the disabled list while Arkansas has yet to announce a starter. The game will start a bit earlier than usual at 5:30PM in Springdale.