Tulsa's Dan Winkler has been the top pitcher in the Texas League this season, entering Thursday night's start as the league
Former Union HS standout and OSU receiver/ current Cincinnati Bengal Tracy Moore threw out the first pitch Thursday night. (Rich Crimi)
leader in wins, strikeouts and ERA. Winkler turned in his usual strong performance in what was his eighth start of the year, but it was Springfield starter Jonathan Cornelius that stole the spotlight. The lefthander allowed only two infield hits in 6 1/3 dominant innings as the Cardinals defeated Winkler and the Drillers 4-0. He was even effective at the plate, lining a double over the head of centerfielder Delta Cleary Jr. in the seventh.
The 25-year-old Cornelius turned in his best outing of the season for the Redbirds. He went into the game with only a 2-4 record and a 5.35 ERA, while the Drillers offense was in its hottest streak of the season, posting a .313 average in the past 10 games.
Cornelius opened with four no-hit innings before Brian Humphries reached on an infield single leading off the bottom of the fifth. The only other hit against the Redbirds' starter came on another infield single by Delta Cleary Jr. with one out in the sixth.
Winkler pitched well but was hurt by three solo homers by the Cards. The first came from James Ramsey with two outs in the top of the first that gave Springfield a 1-0 lead. It was the Texas League leading 10th homer of the season for the centerfielder.
Ex-Drillers outfielder Rafael Ortega doubled the lead with his third home run with two outs in the fifth.
Jonathan Rodriguez added a final solo shot in the sixth. His fifth homer of the season made it 3-0.
The Redbirds added an unearned run in the eighth off reliever Kraig Sitton to complete their scoring.
Winkler pitched six innings and surrendered six hits and the three runs. He had five strikeouts and did not walk a batter. The defeat dropped his record to 5-2. Despite the three runs, Winkler's ERA is still a miniscule 1.48.
Joey Donofrio took over for Cornelius in the seventh and issued only two walks in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Lee Stoppelman worked a quick 1-2-3 ninth to complete the shutout for the Cardinals.
The Drillers matched a season low with their two hits.
The defeat ended Tulsa's season best 5-game winning streak. Despite the loss, the Drillers retained their first-place standing in the TL's North Division.
Catcher Tom Murphy left the game in the fourth inning with what was termed shoulder stiffness.
Tulsa will now play two games at Northwest Arkansas while ONEOK Field hosts a pair of Bedlam Games. In Friday night's meeting, Jon Gray (3-2, 3.22 ERA) will take the mound for the Drillers while Andy Ferguson (2-2, 4.99 ERA) will pitch for the Naturals. Starting time at Springdale's Arvest Ballpark is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.