After Tulsa starter Jon Gray seemed in control for most of the first part of the game, three Springfield runs in the bottom of the sixth inning saw the Drillers relinquish a lead that they had held since the first inning.
However, the Drillers offense came to the rescue late, while Tulsa pitching was able to limit the Cardinals' offensive production to only the three runs in the sixth inning.
A five-run eighth inning propelled the Drillers to a comeback win Saturday night in Springfield in front of a crowd of over 5,000. Three home runs in the last two innings of the game helped Tulsa close out an 8-3 victory that brought their record to 14-15 and moved them into a tie for first place in the Texas League North Division with the Springfield Cardinals.
The Drillers struck first with a manufactured run in the top of the first inning. Leadoff man Taylor Featherston singled and moved to second on Delta Cleary Jr.'s sacrifice bunt in the ensuing at-bat. Christhian Adames scored Featherston with a single up the middle to give the Drillers an early 1-0 lead.
Tulsa stretched the lead to two when Ryan Casteel opened the fourth inning with a double, moved to third on Dustin Garneau's ground out and came home on a Jayson Langfels sacrifice fly.
After Gray cruised through the first five innings, he could not escape the sixth unscathed. Rafael Ortega was the first to get on base for Springfield with a single, and a fielding error by Adames in the next at-bat put runners on first and second.
Three consecutive Cardinals hits following the Adames error, including a double from Curt Smith, scored three runs for Springfield, as the Drillers saw their 2-0 lead become a 3-2 deficit.
The Drillers got a much-needed offensive explosion in the eighth, which started with a leadoff single from Cleary Jr. After Adames moved Cleary Jr. to second on a sac bunt and Casteel flew out, Tulsa began a two-out rally that would result in a five-run fury.
Garneau launched a double to deep left field to score Cleary Jr. and tie the game. Langfels followed with an RBI single to score Garneau and give the Drillers a 4-3 lead.
Tyler Massey and Jared Simon kept the rally going by hitting back-to-back home runs to put the Drillers up 7-3 and cap an exciting eight for Tulsa.
Taylor Featherston decided to join the long ball action with a home run in the top of the ninth on a well-struck ball to left field to ensure a Tulsa win.
Both Drillers starter Gray and Springfield starter Sam Gaviglio pitched six innings while allowing two earned runs. Gray struck out seven along the way. Relievers Ken Roberts and Cole White combined to pitch scoreless seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
Featherston led Tulsa with three hits, including the home run, and is now leading the Texas League with a .364 batting average. He increased his hit total to 40 on the year, also tops in the TL.
The three home runs were tied for the most the Drillers have hit in any given game in 2014.
The Drillers and Cardinals will resume their series in Springfield Sunday afternoon when Tulsa starter Tyler Anderson takes on St. Louis Cardinals starting rotation regular Jaime Garcia, who is on an injury rehab assignment. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10 p.m.