Saturday's series opener between Tulsa and Frisco at ONEOK Field was dominated by pitching with starters Tyler Matzek and Neil Ramirez both delivering solid outings. The game's outcome was determined by one swing of the bat, and unfortunately for the Drillers, that swing came from Frisco's Alex Buchholz. A three-run home run from Buchholz in the sixth inning accounted for all the RoughRiders' offense as they edged the Drillers 3-1 in the first game of a three-game series.
The two teams combined for only 11 hits each in the contest. Matzek and Ramirez were posting dual shutouts through the first five innings, aided by a 15-20 m.p.h. wind blowing in from centerfield.
The pivotal three-run sixth inning for the Riders began with a one-out walk to Teodoro Martinez. Guilder Rodriguez followed with a base hit, but Matzek retired Brett Nicholas on a fly ball for the second out of the inning, bringing Buchholz to the plate. The first baseman deposited the first pitch from Matzek into the terrace section in left field to put the Riders in front 3-0. It was the fourth home run of the season for Buchholz.
Ramirez allowed only two singles in six shutout innings, before turning the game over to the Frisco bullpen.
Tulsa avoided the shutout with a run in the seventh off Ryan Rodebaugh, and it came courtesy of Dustin Garneau. The catcher hit Rodebaugh's second offering over the leftfield wall to cut Frisco's lead to 3-1.
It would be the final offensive output of the game. Dan Houston, making his first relief appearance of the season for the Drillers, did not allow a hit in three innings of work. The right-hander moved to the bullpen with the insertion of Roy Oswalt into Tulsa's starting rotation.
The Drillers had base runners against Frisco reliever Roman Mendez in each of the final two innings, but could not produce another run. Kent Matthes doubled with one out in the eighth and was left stranded. Rafael Ortega singled with two outs in the ninth, but Cristhian Adames flied out on the next pitch to end the game.
Tulsa actually out-hit Frisco 6-5 but was 0-9 with runners in scoring position.
Angelys Nina finished hitless in four at-bats, snapping his nine-game hitting streak.
Matzek fell to 1-5 with the loss. In his six innings of work, he allowed the three runs on five hits. The lefthander walked only one batter and struck out three.
Ramirez improved to 5-1 with win.
The Drillers will send Christian Bergman (3-2, 3.02 ERA) to the mound Sunday evening in game two of the series. Frisco will counter with Kevin Pucetas (5-4, 5.01 ERA). Starting time is set for 7:05PM with a post-game Fireworks Spectacular planned for after the game.