May has not been a big offensive month for the Tulsa Drillers, but you would have never known that during Wednesday's opening game of a six-game homestand. The Drillers hit a season high 4 home runs and sent 12 batters to the plate in a big 7-run fifth inning and defeated the Midland RockHounds 8-4 at ONEOK Field.
The four homers accounted for half of Tulsa's eight hits in the contest. The power display was not limited to the Drillers as the RockHounds also got involved in the home run barrage, hitting three of their own, however, all three were solo shots.
Midland catcher Beau Taylor opened the scoring and the homer parade in the top of the third with a towering fly ball just inside the right field foul pole. The drive landed in the middle of Elgin Avenue for Taylor's first home run of the season to give the Hounds a 1-0 lead.
Cristhian Adames matched Taylor in the bottom of the third. The Tulsa shortstop hit his first homer of the year just to the left of straight-away centerfield to even the score.
The power display continued in the fifth inning. In the top half of the inning, David Freitas put the RockHounds back in front with his third homer, but the Drillers answered in a big way in the home half of the inning.
The inning began with a leadoff walk to Jayson Langfels, and Jose Gonzalez followed with a possible double play grounder that turned into an adventure for the RockHounds. Shortstop Dusty Coleman misplayed the grounder for an error. It was one of three errors on the play as Coleman was charged with another one for interfering with a base runner, and centerfielder Conner Crumbliss was charged with the third miscue when his throw back to the infield was wild. Langfels ended up at third on the bizarre play and Gonzalez went to second.
Adames followed with a sacrifice fly just shy of the wall in right field that scored Langfels to even the score. Rafael Ortega gave the Drillers their first lead when he hit his first home run of the season. After Delta Cleary Jr. walked, Kiel Roling hit his team-leading 11th homer to put Tulsa in front 6-2.
The RockHounds summoned Nate Long from the bullpen and he was greeted by Kyle Parker's 9th round-tripper that upped the Drillers lead to five runs. It was the first time this season that Tulsa hit back-to-back home runs.
The marathon inning continued as Kent Matthes drew a walk and moved to third on a double by Angelys Nina. Langfels, who began the inning, capped the long frame with a single to left field that made it 8-2.
The RockHounds closed the scoring with two runs off reliever Mike Marbry in the top of the ninth. The first came on their third homer of the game and the seventh of the night as Jake Goebbert's drive bounced off Ortega's glove and over the centerfield fence.
The starting pitchers featured a matchup of right-handers that began the season pitching in the independent Atlantic League. Sean Gallagher, making his second start since signing a free agent contract with the Colorado Rockies, picked up his first win for the Drillers. Gallagher, a veteran of four major league seasons, allowed five hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Erik Arensen was making his first appearance for Midland after signing a contract with the Oakland A's. He was charged with the loss, surrendering four hits and six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings.
Isaiah Froneberger retired all five batters he faced in relief of Gallagher.
Nina finished with two hits to extend his hitting streak to seven straight games. The streak matches the longest of the year for a Tulsa hitter.
The Drillers and RockHounds will continue their series Thursday night at ONEOK Field. Tim Gustafson (2-3, 5.26 ERA) will take the mound for Tulsa against Murphy Smith (4-4, 2.00 ERA) of Midland. Starting time is scheduled for 7:05PM.