The San Antonio Missions broke a tie game with three runs in the ninth inning and defeated the Tulsa Drillers 5-3 Tuesday night at ONEOK Field. The game marked the end of a season-opening six-game homestand for the Drillers and left them with a 2-4 mark during the stand.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Tulsa got a big home run from Dustin Garneau that evened the score. Any hopes of a victory were dashed with the Missions three-run ninth.
Heading into Tuesday's meeting, the Drillers had yet to score first in a game this season. That trend continued as the Missions opened the scoring with a run in the top of the third inning off Eddie Butler. With one out, Travis Jankowski singled and stole second base. A two-out base hit by Jace Peterson brought Jankowski home to give San Antonio a 1-0 lead.
One inning later, Tom Murphy got the run back for the Drillers. His solo home run, the catcher's third of the season, tied the score at 1-1.
San Antonio moved back in front in the fifth. Bridger Hunt opened the inning by bunting for a hit. After a strikeout, Hunt advanced to second on a ground ball out. As on their first run, the Missions got a big two-out hit as Cory Spangenberg grounded a single into right field that plated Hunt to restore their one-run lead.
The slim lead held until Garneau's second homer of the season in the eighth, but the Missions responded with their big ninth inning against Scott Oberg. The Tulsa closer began the inning with a strikeout, but San Antonio first baseman Lee Orr followed with his second home run of the series to break the tie.
The inning continued, with the Missions scoring two more times to up their lead to three runs. Kyle Gaedele plated one run with a pinch-hit double, and Spangenberg brought home another with a run-scoring ground out.
Tulsa made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth as Tyler Massey and Jayson Langfels opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Missions' reliever Dennis O'Grady recovered to retire the next two hitters before Taylor Featherston plated Massey with a two-out hit. With the potential tying runs on base, Cristhian Adames' sharp grounder was backhanded by a diving Orr who quickly stood up and raced to the bag to record the game's final out.
The late rally from the Missions spoiled another strong outing from Eddie Butler. The right-hander turned in an impressive start, surrendering only six hits and two runs in seven innings of work, the longest outing for a Tulsa pitcher this season. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven.
In his two starts this year, Butler has logged a 2.25 ERA. In 12 total innings, he has issued only 1 walk and recorded 12 strikeouts, but has yet to be involved in a decision.
The Drillers will have a travel day on Wednesday before beginning a six-game road trip Thursday night in Corpus Christi. The pitching matchup in the opener will be Dan Winkler (0-0, 0.00 ERA) for Tulsa against Ross Seaton (0-0, 4.91 ERA) of the Hooks. Starting time at Whataburger Field is slated for 7:10 p.m.