Things didn't come easy for Tulsa in the first game of a 4-game series against the Arkansas Travelers Wednesday night, but the Drillers persevered and were finally rewarded for their efforts. A back-and-forth contest with the Arkansas Travelers ended with a walk-off 5-4 win for the Drillers in the bottom of the ninth inning at ONEOK Field.
The win for Tulsa kept the Drillers in a first-place tie in the second-half North Division standings while bringing a satisfying end to a game where the finish was anything but certain.
Drillers' leadoff hitter Ronald Torreyes began the ninth inning comeback as he grounded a single through the left side for his first hit of the night. Although he had been held hitless until that at-bat, Torreyes has excelled leading off innings since arriving in Tulsa a month ago, hitting a superb .390 in those situations. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Peter Lavin and came around to score the game-winner when Lars Anderson hit a walk-off single to right, sending their teammates into celebration mode.
The game began with Arkansas opening the scoring when Brian Hernandez launched a solo home run over the left field fence. The blast gave Arkansas the 1-0 lead, but it wouldn't last for long as Tulsa got the run right back in the bottom half of the inning.
Kyle Farmer, back with the Drillers after playing in the Futures Game in Cincinnati this past weekend, led off the inning with a sharp double to get things going. After a groundout moved him to third, Farmer came home to tie it up on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Yadir Drake.
The Drillers went ahead in the third thanks to some heads up baseball. Brandon Trinkwon worked a walk to start the frame and promptly stole second to move into scoring position. That decision paid off immediately as Lavin brought him in with an RBI single.
Lavin was recently honored as the Texas League Hitter of the Week after batting .407 over the last seven games. In addition to plating Trinkwon with his run-scoring knock, the base hit also extended Lavin's hitting streak to nine games. The nine-game hitting streak matches Corey Seager and Luis Mateo for the longest such streak thus far this season.
The Travs came back to tie things up in the fifth as Tulsa starter Ross Stripling temporarily lost his control. With two outs in the inning and a man on first, Stripling surrendered a hit followed by back-to-back walks to force in a run and knot things up at 2-2.
But the Drillers answered right back yet again in the home half of the fifth. Lavin got the rally going with a one-out double. Brian Burgamy grounded out for the second out of the inning, but Anderson delivered with a clutch RBI hit to help Tulsa reclaim the lead. Anderson then stole second and came home to score another run when Farmer cracked his second double of the night to extend the Drillers lead to 4-2.
Despite the rough fifth inning, Stripling turned in a solid outing as he limited the Travs to just the two runs on three hits over his five innings of work. The lanky right-hander also struck out seven against just the two walks.
Arkansas would not go down without a fight though as Blake Gailen greeted Tulsa reliever Ralston Cash with a solo shot to begin the sixth and bring the Travs within a run. The North Division rivals would then tie things up in the eighth as they plated the tying run without a hit.
Facing reliever Ramon Benjamin, Drew Maggi reached base with a walk before stealing second. Maggi scampered home to score when Torreyes threw the ball away to first on a ground ball up the middle, tying the game yet again before Anderson's heroics in the ninth would give the Drillers the win.
Jose De Leon (2-4, 4.21) looks to keep the momentum going for Tulsa as he gets the ball to begin the game Thursday night. He will be opposed by Arkansas' Albert Suarez (7-7, 3.48) with first pitch coming at 7:05PM.