Two weeks ago, Tyler Massey's batting average had dipped to .168 as he worked to adapt in his first season at the Double-A level. Since that time, the Tulsa outfielder has hit safely in 9 of his last 11 games, raising his average 48 points to .216. Massey capped his resurgence with three hits Saturday night, including a tie-breaking, two-run homer that sent the Drillers to a 5-3 win over Midland at ONEOK Field.
The homer came in the fifth inning and helped the Drillers overcome an early two-run deficit to the RockHounds. The victory was the second straight for first-place Tulsa who now leads second-place Arkansas by two games.
After the Drillers took a first-inning lead in the series opener the previous night, it was Midland who jumped on top in Saturday's game. The game's leadoff hitter Billy Burns reached on an error, stole second base and moved to third on a ground out. He scored on another infield grounder to give the RockHounds a quick 1-0 lead.
They doubled the margin in the third. Eddie Butler retired the first two hitters of the inning before walking Conner Crumbliss. A base hit by Max Muncy was followed by another hit from Josh Whitaker that scored Crumbliss to make it 2-0.
The Drillers got on the board in the bottom of the third when Delta Cleary Jr. drew a leadoff walk, swiped second and scored on a one-out hit from Cristhian Adames.
Two more runs in the fourth from the Drillers put them in front. Tyler Massey began the inning with a bunt base hit. After stealing second base, Massey took a risk that paid off. When Jared Simon hit a chopper behind third, Massey unconventionally tried to advance. He was able to just slide under the tag of third baseman Jefry Marte, allowing Simon to reach first safely. Cleary Jr. then lined a double down the left field line that scored both Massey and Simon to put Tulsa in front 3-2.
Midland evened the score with a run in a lengthy fifth inning for Butler. Burns led off with a single, and after stealing second, he scored his second run of the game on a hit from Muncy.
Another hit and walk loaded the bases before Butler struck out Anthony Aliotti for the second out of the inning. The strikeout ended Butler's night as Ryan Arrowood came on and retired Hiroyuki Nakajima on a line out to second to end the bases loaded threat and set the stage for Massey.
Midland starter Andrew Werner retired the inning's first two hitters before issuing a two-out walk to Harold Riggins that prolonged the inning. Massey hit the next pitch from Werner over the right field fence for his fourth home run of the season to put the Drillers in front 5-3.
The homer would cap the scoring for the night as Arrowood and Kraig Sitton combined to keep the Hounds off the board the rest of the way.
Arrowood allowed one hit and one walk in 2.1 relief innings to collect the win that improved his record to 2-0. Sitton did not allow a hit in his two scoreless innings to close out the win and collect his first save of the season.
Butler labored through his toughest start of the season. He threw 107 pitches in his 4.2 innings, with 34 coming in his difficult fifth. He allowed seven hits and issued two walks while striking out four. Butler was charged with three runs, two earned.
The Drillers won despite being out-hit by the RockHounds 8-6, with Massey accounting for half of the hits.
Tulsa will wrap up its homestand with a final game against Midland Sunday afternoon at ONEOK Field. Dan Winkler (5-2, 1.34 ERA) will pitch the finale for the Drillers while Zach Neal (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will make the start for the RockHounds after returning from Triple-A Sacramento where he was 2-2. Starting time will be 2:05 p.m. in downtown Tulsa.