Monday night's game between the Tulsa Drillers and the Corpus Christi Hooks was filled with power pitching, highlight-worthy defensive plays, and late offensive muscle. But it was the Drillers who clinched their second straight series victory on the road as they dropped the Hooks 2-1 at Whataburger Field.
Chris Anderson provided yet another strong performance by a Drillers pitcher, tossing seven innings, with his only blemish being a solo home run given up to top Houston Astros prospect Carlos Correa. The right-hander picked up his third win of the season with his efforts while routinely hitting 95 mph on the radar gun.
Although the Drillers came out on top, the Hooks were impressive in the loss. Aaron West delivered 4.2 innings of shutout baseball with five strikeouts before exiting the game after reaching his pitch count.
He was followed by reliever Travis Ballew who matched Drillers starter Anderson's velocity with a fastball touching 96 mph. Both Corpus Christi pitchers were aided by outstanding defensive plays from the Hooks defense.
The defensive highlight reel began in the top of the fourth when Drillers slugger Corey Seager hit a high fly that appeared to be going into the stands for a foul ball. But Hooks first baseman Conrad Gregor and second baseman Jiovanni Mier both dove into the crowd with Gregor emerging with the ball in his grasp.
Speedy Hooks center fielder Tony Kemp inserted his name in the night's lineup of highlight plays, as he made a circus-style diving grab in the gap to prevent Luis Mateo from sure extra bases in the sixth inning.
Riding off the momentum of Kemp's grab, Correa proved why he was selected by the Houston Astros as the top overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. The highly touted prospect broke up the scoreless affair in the bottom half of the sixth as he launched an Anderson fastball over the left field fence to give Corpus Christi a temporary 1-0 advantage.
Leading off the top of the seventh, Seager did his best to answer Correa's homer as he crushed a Ballew offering 405 feet to center only to see Kemp race the ball down on the warning track. But the drive was a sign of things to come for the Drillers offense.
Following a double laced in the gap by designated hitter Brian Burgamy, Tulsa newcomer Paul Hoeneke put the Drillers on top with one swing of the bat. The lefty slugger struck a no-doubt, two-run blast well beyond the right field fence to give the Drillers the offensive answer they needed. The lefty first baseman was playing in just his third game with the Drillers since being promoted from Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.
Reliever Chris Reed came on for Anderson in the bottom half of the eighth and made quick work of the Hooks hitters setting them down 1-2-3. His solid work earned him a trip back out for the ninth as he looked to pick up the save.
After the leadoff man was retired, Correa stepped up and delivered a single through the left side to make things interesting. But Reed maintained his composure on the mound, getting Colin Moran to hit a ground ball to short. Luis Mateo fielded it cleanly and fired to first as the Drillers fittingly closed out the game with a double play.
The Drillers will seek to close out their road trip with a win Tuesday night as they send left-hander Julio Urias (1-0, 0.00) to the mound. The Hooks will counter with a southpaw of their own in Kent Emanuel (0-0, 5.40.) First pitch is set for 7:05PM.
NOTE: Before the game, Tulsa manager Razor Shines announced that right-handers Juan Gonzalez and Fabio Martinez had been placed on the disabled list. The Los Angeles Dodgers subsequently stated that left-handed pitcher Ryan Dennick will be added to the Drillers roster.