In a 12 inning contest that lasted 3 hours and 53 minutes, it was the Arkansas Travelers who broke a scoreless deadlock, taking advantage of a costly throwing error to earn a 1-0 victory over the Tulsa Drillers at Dickey-Stephens Park.
The Drillers and Travelers both came into Monday's game feeling good after each squad had won 3 of 4 games in their respective weekend series. But in their first meeting of the year, both teams' offenses were held in check as they combined for 33 strikeouts during the game as each pitching staff turned in dominating performances.
Tulsa pitchers set a new 2015 season high with 19 strikeouts of Travelers hitters while only giving up two hits in the Drillers first extra-inning contest of the season. After giving up a lone single in the first, the Drillers staff combined to hurl 11 no-hit innings until the fateful 12th.
With two outs, the Drillers fifth pitcher of the night, Jorge De Leon, lost his feel for the strike zone walking two Travelers. Pinch hitter Anthony Bemboom hit a ground ball into shallow right field where second baseman Brandon Dixon made a great diving stop. But Dixon threw the ball away allowing Kentrail Davis to score from second to give the Travelers the 1-0 victory.
Drillers starter Julio Urias set the tone early as he responded from a subpar outing in his last start in a big way. Although he didn't factor into the decision, the southpaw turned in six sparkling innings in his fourth start of the year while giving up just one soft hit, tying his season-high with ten strikeouts.
Urias was economical needing just 70 pitches to complete his six inning stint with 52 of them being strikes. Even more impressive was the fact that Urias did not walk a batter in the game. He confounded the Traveler hitters with a steady diet of 80 mph changeups mixed in with his 95 mph fastball.
As good as Urias was, Arkansas starter Albert Suarez was almost as dominant. The big right-hander also put up six scoreless innings as he practically mirrored his counterpart's performance. Suarez recorded seven strikeouts as he also mixed in a quality changeup to go with a firm fastball of his own.
The Drillers had scoring opportunities in the second, fourth and fifth innings but left runners in scoring position in each inning, wasting key chances to take the lead.
Tulsa's bullpen continued its strong start to the season as Razor Shines played the matchup game. Chris Reed relieved Urias and picked up right where the starter had left off. Reed recorded four of his six outs via the strikeout, lowering his season ERA to a miniscule 0.77.
Blake Smith came on for Reed in the eighth and turned in three outs before handing the ball to Jeremy Horst after plunking Hinshaw with two outs in the ninth. But Horst kept the shutout intact as he struck out Cal Towey to send the contest into extra innings.
In the Drillers half of the tenth, Arkansas committed two errors on routine plays with two outs, putting runners at the corners for Corey Seager. Seager struck a sharp ground ball up the middle but it deflected off the pitcher's leg straight to the Arkansas second baseman who fired to first to end the threat.
The score would remain scoreless until the Travelers walked off with the victory in the 12th on the unfortunate Dixon error. Travelers reliever Nate Hyatt picked up his first victory of the season with a scoreless inning while De Leon took the loss for Tulsa.
Tulsa and Arkansas will continue its series Tuesday night. The Drillers will look to get back on track as they send RHP Deck McGuire (3-0, 1.80 ERA) to the mound. He will be opposed by Traveler LHP Tyler DeLoach (1-1, 1.50 ERA.) First pitch at Dickey-Stephens Park is set for 7:10PM as fans can hear all the action on AM 1430 The Buzz.