The Tulsa Drillers and Arkansas Travelers came to an impasse Thursday when Chad Bettis threw the first pitch of their series opener at ONEOK Field. It was from that point forward that both Bettis and his opposition, ex-Driller Brandon Hynick, rebuked any offensive advances as they allowed just three total hits over the next seven innings. In a remarkable overall pitching performance that saw 23 strikeouts, neither side would break through until the ninth.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth, Travelers catcher Carlos Ramirez put an end to the scoring drought. On a 1-2 pitch from Leuris Gomez, he put just enough bat on the ball to serve a soft line drive into right field to plate the only two runs of the game. Mike Morin came on in ninth to lock down his first save of the season and the 2-0, shutout win for Arkansas.
The loss drops Tulsa to 14-20 in the second half, while Arkansas stays in the thick of things atop the standings with the win as they improve to 19-15.
Bettis allowed just two hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking three in what was undoubtedly his best outing since returning from the disabled list on July 3. He was matched stride for stride, however, by his former Driller counterpart.
A single by Delta Cleary Jr. was all the Texas League All-Star Hynick permitted in his seven innings of work. He struck out five and walked one to lower his ERA to 2.50. Hynick spent the entire 2008 season and part of last season with Tulsa.
In their three meetings this season, Bettis holds the only victory with his win back on April 24. The two have been saddled with no decisions in their last two meetings, including Thursday's stalemate.
Ryan Chaffee picked up his second win of the season after striking out the side in the eighth. Gomez meanwhile suffered his first loss of the season, after allowing two runs on two hits in two innings, while striking out four.
In the ninth, C.J Cron doubled down the left field line to get things going with one out. After hitting Kaleb Cowart and getting Travis Witherspoon to lift a harmless pop fly to right, Gomez walked Robbie Widlansky to load the bases. Ramirez did the rest.
Both teams threatened in the fifth, but failed to convert on their scoring opportunities. With two outs in the top half of the inning, Carlos Ramirez walked and advanced to third when Jimmy Swift flared a single to right. Randal Grichuk followed with a fly ball to deep right field, but Kyle Parker was able to track it down just shy of the warning track.
In the home half of the fifth, Tulsa seemed to have something cooking with runners on first and second and only one out. Joey Wong, who entered the game hitting .417 over his previous ten games, smoked a hot shot to first base, but C.J. Cron made a nice play to glove the ball before starting a 3-6-3 double play.
Conversely, Angelys Nina made a sensational play to rob Cron of a hit the very next inning. The second baseman ranged deep to his left and laid out to snag what looked to be a sure base hit. He then sprung to his feet to throw the Travs' first baseman out by a step.
Jaron Shepherd prolonged Tulsa's ninth inning with a one-out single to left, but Morin struck out both Cristhian Adames and Parker to collect his first save of the season.
Adames finished the game 0-4 halting his hitting streak at 11 games.
The Drillers and Travelers will be at it again Friday night for game two of their four-game series at ONEOK Field. Dan Houston (2-6, 3.92 ERA), who led Tulsa in wins a year ago, will make his 11th start of the season. Arkansas will send Drew Carpenter (2-1, 2.45 ERA) to the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05PM.