TULSA, Oklahoma – For the second time in three games, the Tulsa Drillers had the tying run on board in the bottom of the ninth but could not take advantage in a 4-2 loss to the Springfield Cardinals Friday.
The Drillers (52-59) entered the ninth down by two, and the first batter of the inning struck out. But the next two each singled, putting Tulsa in prime position to tie or even win the game.
Instead, Brian Rike struck out on four pitches, and Erik Wetzel followed with a harmless pop-up to end the game. The disappointing finish came two days after an eerily similar end, when the Drillers lost 5-4 with the tying run on third in the bottom of the ninth.
The teams were tied for most of the tied Friday after trading runs to start the game. The Cardinals (52-59) started the scoring with a two-run home run by Matt Adams – his 25th of the season – in just the third at-bat of the game.
But Tulsa responded quickly, scoring one run in the second and third innings to tie the game at 2-2. The score remained the same until the seventh, when Springfield loaded the bases with one out. A ground ball scored one run and a single scored another, putting the Cardinals back on top, where they stayed.
The game's two starting pitchers – Tulsa's Joseph Gardner and Springfield's Joe Kelly – had eerily similar line scores. Both pitched 6.1 innings and both gave up seven hits, while Gardner struck out six to Kelly's five.
But the run column was the only one that mattered, and Gardner (0-1) came away with a loss and Kelly (3-2) earned a win. David Kopp entered in the ninth and finished with his fourth save of the year despite his shaky start to the inning.
The Drillers now have lost three games in a row and four of their last five, and Friday's contest marked the first in a four-game series between the two teams. They will face off again at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at ONEOK Field.