The Tulsa Drillers were within two outs of a win Wednesday afternoon at ONEOK Field, but a pair of home runs from the Midland RockHounds turned victory into defeat. The RockHounds got a game tying homer from Chad Pinder in the 9th inning, and a two-run, game winner from Renato Nunez in the 11th to propel the Hounds to a 5-3 victory.
Tulsa had broken a 2-2 tie with a run in the sixth inning and still protected the one-run lead going into the scheduled final inning. Jeremy Horst retired the leadoff hitter in the ninth, but Pinder's opposite field drive just cleared the fence in right field and sent the game into extras.
In the top of the 11th, Matt Olson led off with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, bringing Nunez to the plate. The third baseman smashed an offering from Chris Reed and flipped his bat away as the ball landed deep into the Budweiser Terrace section for a two-run homer.
The Drillers threatened in the bottom half of the inning, but their potential rally ended with a double play. Brandon Dixon led off with a double, and Shawn Zarraga drew a walk. After a sacrifice bunt from Daniel Mayora, Jeremy Rathjen lofted a soft fly ball down the line in left. Left fielder Matt Angle moved over to make the catch and then quickly threw to second base to double off Zarraga for a game-ending double play.
It was a disappointing end to a good offensive day for the Tulsa catcher. Zarraga finished with three hits on the day.
The afternoon contest was scoreless through the first three innings before both teams got on the scoreboard in the fourth. In the top half of the inning, Olson doubled with one out and came home on a base hit by Pinder.
Dixon accounted for Tulsa's run. The second baseman's two-out single plated Lars Anderson who had doubled.
Rathjen gave the Drillers their first lead in the bottom of the fifth. The left fielder's first Double-A home run to open the inning put Tulsa in front 2-1.
The RockHounds tied the score with an unearned run in the sixth. Colin Walsh led off with a double and later came home on a throwing error by right fielder Yadir Drake.
Another defensive miscue helped the Drillers retake the lead in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs and the bases empty, Dixon reached safely on an error by third baseman Nunez. Zarraga made the Hounds pay for the miscue when he split the gap in left-center field with a double that plated Dixon to give Tulsa a 3-2 lead.
Tulsa starting pitcher Jeremy Kehrt turned in his most efficient outing of the season. The right-hander needed only 63 pitches to complete his six innings of work. Kehrt surrendered only one earned run on six hits and did not walk a batter while striking out five.
Juan Gonzalez provided two dominant innings in relief of Kehrt. Gonzalez did not allow a base runner and struck out four of the six batters he faced.
Jarek Cunningham was hitless in four at-bats, ending his eight-game hitting streak for the Drillers.
The two teams will play the final game of their three-game set Thursday night at ONEOK Field. Looking to avoid a sweep, the Drillers will send Mickey Storey (0-1, 6.00 ERA) to the mound, while the RockHounds will counter with Tim Atherton (2-2, 5.46 ERA). Starting time in downtown Tulsa is scheduled for 7:05PM.