A large Tuesday night crowd of 6,834 turned out to ONEOK Field to watch the Tulsa Drillers opening night in the second-half of the Texas League season, but the Springfield Cardinals spoiled the festivities. The Cardinals used a four-run third inning to overcome an early Tulsa lead and posted a 6-4 victory.
With the second half opening, the loss means the first-half champion Drillers are not atop the North Division standings for the first time since May 9.
The Drillers did score first in the contest, taking advantage of an unearned run in the first inning to jump out to a 1-0 lead. Springfield starting pitcher Kurt Heyer struck out the first two batters before Cristhian Adames hit an infield bouncer. Second baseman Jacob Wilson appeared to injure himself while attempting to field the ball, allowing Adames to reach safely. Ryan Casteel followed with a run-scoring double that put the Drillers in front. Wilson exited the game early with the injury and was replaced by Curt Smith.
The lead held until the Cardinals' big third inning off Tulsa starter Mike Piazza. After a walk and a single put runners at the corners with one out, James Ramsey doubled home the first run to tie the game. Jonathan Rodriguez followed with a two-run single that put the Redbirds in front, but Rodriguez was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. The play saved a run for the Drillers, as the next hitter, Patrick Wisdom, belted his eighth home run of the season to increase the Cards lead to 4-1.
Each team added a run in the fifth. For Springfield, Ramsey singled and scored on a base hit by Rodriguez.
In the bottom half of the fifth, the Drillers scored another unearned run when Jared Simon reached on an error and raced home on a two-out triple by pinch-hitter Harold Riggins.
Tulsa made things interesting in the seventh inning. Heyer had allowed only two hits before Brian Humphries opened the seventh with a single to right field. The hit snapped an 0-23 streak for Humphries. Jayson Langfels followed with another base hit, ending Heyer's night.
Simon made it three straight hits when he greeted reliever Ronnie Shaban with a single to centerfield that loaded the bases with no outs. Jose Rivera brought Humphries home with a sacrifice fly, and an infield grounder from David Kandilas scored Langfels to pull the Drillers to within one run.
Springfield quickly got one of the runs back in the top of the eighth when Wisdom singled and scored on a two-out hit from Travis Tartamella.
It would be the final run of the night. The Drillers could get no closer, as Joey Donofrio pitched a scoreless eighth inning and got the first two outs in the ninth.
The Redbirds used five different pitchers in the game, with Heyer getting the win to even his record at 3-3.
In his second start for the Drillers, Piazza surrendered 5 runs on 10 hits in a 5-inning outing. The loss dropped his record to 0-2.
Ramsey led a 14-hit attack for the Redbirds by going 4-5, while the Drillers were limited to seven hits. One of the hits was an eighth-inning single by Adames that extended his hitting streak to 10 straight games.