Ronald Torreyes led off the game with a single for the Drillers, but that would not be a sign of things to come for the Tulsa hitters. The pitching staffs for both teams turned in strong performances Tuesday night, but it was the Naturals who came out on top over the Drillers 1-0 in Springdale, Arkansas.
After Torreyes' single in the first, the Drillers would not get another base runner until the fourth inning when Erisbel Arruebarrena led off the frame with a base hit. Northwest Arkansas starting pitcher Cody Reed responded by striking out the side swinging to put an end to any scoring hopes for Tulsa.
Reed was dominant for the Naturals as the lefthander turned in seven shutout innings to go with seven strikeouts against just two hits and one walk. It was just the fifth start at this level for the southpaw, but one certainly couldn't have guessed that by the way Reed pitched as he earned his second Double-A win of the year.
Ross Stripling was not as dominant as Reed, but he still gave the Drillers another quality start. The Dodgers number fifteen overall prospect according to MLB.com, hurled six innings of one-run ball as he scattered eight hits during his outing. Despite coming out on the losing side of the box score, it was an overall good night for Stripling as he continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery.
Stripling's solid performance highlighted an impressive run by the Tulsa rotation over the last week. With Stripling's performance Tuesday, the Drillers starting pitchers have now gone seven straight games where they've allowed two runs or fewer while they've been on the mound.
The lone run of the ballgame came early. Jorge Bonifacio led off the bottom of the second with a soft double to right before his teammates followed with back-to-back base hits to give the Naturals the 1-0 lead. They threatened to add more as they had runners on first and second with no outs, but Stripling induced a double play grounder and a pop out from the next two hitters to limit the damage to just one run.
Although the Naturals would put men on base in each of the next three innings, they would not cross the plate again as the Drillers utilized two more double plays to hold their opponent at bay.
Reliever Ramon Benjamin relieved Stripling to start the seventh and submitted a scoreless inning of work before turning the ball over to Juan Jaime to begin the eighth.
Jaime made things interesting as he put runners on the corners with no one out thanks to a walk, a wild pitch and a bunt single. But the hard-throwing righty settled down, using a fastball that hit triple digits on the radar gun to set down the next three Naturals to keep the Tulsa deficit at one.
The Drillers did not go down without a fight in the ninth. With two strikes and two outs, Brian Burgamy legged out an infield single to keep the Drillers alive. Pinch-runner Adam Law entered the contest and stole second to put the tying run in scoring position. Law's daring play made him the first Tulsa runner to make it to scoring position on the night. But his efforts did not lead to a run as Lars Anderson struck out looking on a close, full-count offering from Northwest Arkansas reliever Kyle Zimmer to end the game.
The game time of 2 hours and 9 minutes marked the quickest nine inning ballgame the Drillers have played in this year.
The two squads will conclude their four-game series Wednesday night as the Drillers look to claim the series with a victory. Getting the start for Tulsa will be Chris Anderson (9-5, 3.34 ERA) who is coming off a complete-game, winning performance in his last outing. Northwest Arkansas will counter with Christian Binford (3-4, 4.82 ERA) as it looks for a series split. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:05PM.