The Tulsa Drillers wrapped up their six-game road trip with a 6-5 Memorial Day win Monday afternoon at Security Bank Ballpark in Midland.
The win was Tulsa's 27th on the season, good for a two-game lead in the Texas League North division.
The Drillers looked to be in control of the game for the majority of play, obtaining a 5-0 lead after five innings. But a late push from the RockHounds tied the game in the eighth and eventually took the contest to extra innings.
Drillers starter Dan Winkler only bettered his already phenomenal season with Monday's performance. The 2013 California League Pitcher of the Year pitched five shutout innings, allowing only one hit and two walks while striking out seven. Winkler, who has the best ERA, WHIP and strikeout total in the Texas League, left with a five-run lead, but unfortunately could not pick up the win, which would have made him the first pitcher in the TL to six wins this season.
The Drillers' big second inning gave them an early 3-0 lead. A single, walk and fielding error loaded the bases for Jose Rivera, who has hit .316 with the Drillers since joining the team from Modesto about a month ago. Rivera delivered with a big bases-clearing double to put the Drillers on the scoreboard first.
Two more runs in the fifth inning gave Tulsa a seemingly comfortable 5-0 lead. Rivera led off the inning with another double, while Tyler Massey also doubled two batters later, scoring Rivera. Massey then moved to third on a Ryan Casteel single and came home on a sac fly from the team's RBI leader, Brian Humphries.
As the Drillers appeared to be cruising to a victory in the series finale, Midland had other plans. The Hounds scored one run in both the sixth and seventh innings off of Ryan Arrowood, who relieved Winkler.
With the game at 5-2, the RockHounds rallied for a big eighth inning to tie the game. A Blake Forsythe single and a Billy Burns double put runners on second and third with no outs. After striking out the next batter, Tulsa reliever Ken Roberts hit Anthony Aliotti with an inside pitch that got away to load the bases.
Josh Whitaker then launched a ball that hit off the top of the wall in deep center field, merely feet from a grand slam, scoring two. Max Muncy's ensuing groundout scored Chad Oberacker, who pinch-ran for Aliotti, and tied the game at 5-5.
The blown lead did not keep the Drillers down for too long, as they were able to score the game-winning run in the top of the tenth. After Dustin Garneau reached on a single, Harold Riggins took a ball deep to center field, where it hit off the wall for a double. Manager Kevin Riggs waved Garneau home, who slid into home for the go-ahead run, barely missing the tag at the plate.
Closer Scott Oberg took the mound with the one-run lead in the bottom of the tenth and retired three of four batters to solidify a back-and-forth win for Tulsa. It was Oberg's eleventh save this season in eleven save opportunities.
Jose Rivera continued his solid offensive production, leading the Drillers with three doubles out of the nine-hole on the day.