One night after hitting a season high four home runs, the Tulsa Drillers again used the longball to post a second straight win over the Midland RockHounds Thursday at ONEOK Field. The Drillers hit three more homers, including a grand slam from Kiel Roling, and rallied for a 7-6 victory.
The win was a season high fourth straight for the Drillers and their sixth in the past seven games.
The start of the game was delayed 2 hours and 10 minutes by rain in the Tulsa area. First pitch did not take place until 9:15PM. It proved to be worth the wait for the Drillers.
The home run display began quickly as the Drillers jumped to an early lead. In the second inning, Angelys Nina singled in front of Jayson Langfels' fifth home run of the season that gave Tulsa a 2-0 lead.
Nick Freitas, who was one of three Midland hitters to homer the previous night, hit his second homer of the series to cut the Drillers lead in half.
Midland tied the score in the fourth inning. Chad Oberacker led off with a base hit against Tulsa starter Tim Gustafson and moved to third on a double by Tyler Ladendorf. When second baseman Nina mishandled the throw back to the infield, Oberacker came home with the tying run.
Freitas continued his onslaught against Tulsa pitchers with his third home run of the series to lead off the fifth to give the RockHounds the lead. The inning continued as Conner Crumbliss grounded out, but Darwin Perez singled and Anthony Aliotti walked. Jake Goebbert followed with his 8th homer of the year to up Midland's lead to 6-2.
Roling erased Tulsa's deficit with one swing of the bat in the bottom half of the fifth. Murphy Smith, who was scheduled to be Midland's starting pitcher, came on in relief for fill-in starter Carlos Hernandez and issued back-to-back singles to Jaron Shepherd and Rafael Ortega to open the inning. Smith then hit Cristhian Adames with a pitch to load the bases and set the stage for Roling. The first baseman hit Smith's second pitch into the terrace section in left field for his second grand slam of the season to again tie the score.
The blast continued a recent hot streak for Roling. He has now homered in five of his last six games and leads the Drillers with 12 home runs and 35 runs batted in.
With the score still tied at 6-6 in the eighth inning, Tulsa got one final home run to decide the contest. Nina drove the inning's first pitch from Smith to right field. Goebbert tracked backward and made a leaping attempt to catch the drive, but he came up empty as he tumbled over the fence and into the Tulsa bullpen.
The homer was Nina's fifth of the year. The infielder was 2-4 in the game and extended his hitting streak to eight straight games, the longest of the season for a Drillers player. Nina has now hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games and is hitting .491 during that stretch.
In addition to his grand slam, Roling picked up two more hits and finished 3-4 on the night.
His homer gave Cole White his first Drillers victory. The reliever worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning to claim the win.
Steven Hensley pitched a perfect ninth inning to pick up his fourth save.
The three-game series will conclude Saturday night. Major league veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt will make his Drillers debut against Zach Neal (4-1, 2.68 ERA) of the RockHounds. Oswalt recently signed a free agent contract with the Colorado Rockies and is expected to make 5-6 starts with the Drillers.
Starting time for the finale is scheduled for 7:05PM at ONEOK Field with a News On 6 Friday Night Fireworks Show scheduled for after the game courtesy of Don Carlton Honda and 98.5 KVOO.