TULSA, Oklahoma – A late comeback attempt fell one hit short for the Tulsa Drillers Wednesday in a 5-4 loss to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
The Drillers (52-57) entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 5-3, but put together a rally in their final chance at the plate. In the span of four batters, Tulsa delivered three base hits, one of which drove home a run to cut the lead in half.
After a wild pitch, Tulsa had runners on first and third with two outs. A simple single would have tied the game and an extra-base hit could have won it. Instead, Hector Gomez worked a long at-bat, but swung and missed at the seventh pitch he saw to end the game.
The Naturals (55-51) managed to win despite recording only four hits, but they made them count in one big inning. Down 1-0, the first three batters of the fourth reached based thanks to a single, a walk and an error, bringing Paulo Orlando to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Orlando responded with the biggest hit of the game, connecting on a bases-clearing triple to suddenly give NW Arkansas a 3-1 lead. Orlando scored on a ground ball in the next at-bat, giving Northwest Arkansas four runs in the inning.
The Naturals extended that lead with a solo home run from Jamie Romak in the sixth, just their third hit of the game. The Drillers cut the lead back to 5-3 thanks to RBI singles by Erik Wetzel and Michael Mitchell in the seventh, setting up the final comeback attempt.
Dan Houston (3-3) came away with a loss for Tulsa, despite allowing just three hits in six innings of work. Will Smith (10-8) earned a win after also allowing four hits in 6.1 innings for NW Arkansas, and Blaine Hardy closed things out for his third save of the year.
The two teams now have split the first two games of a three-game series, with the rubber match coming at 7:05 p.m. Thursday.