Tulsa, Oklahoma - The Arkansas Travelers began their last 14-game stretch of the season with a thrilling 2-1 victory in ten innings over the Tulsa Drillers on Tuesday night at ONEOK Field. Trailing 1-0 in the ninth inning Randal Grichuk hit a game-tying home run (20), then Kaleb Cowart knocked in the winning run in the tenth.
The Travs now tie the Springfield Cardinals for first place in the North Division with a 29-28 record, while the first-half champion Drillers drop two games out at 27-30.
Tulsa right hander Christian Bergman had controlled the Travs bats for eight innings before Grichuk sent his second pitch of the ninth inning over the right-field wall. Bergman had retired 12 of 13 batters heading into the ninth and was working on a two-hitter. He eventually was pulled after 8.1 innings allowing three hits and struck out four batters.
Robbie Widlansky helped key the tenth inning with a leadoff infield single when he bounced up-the-middle and Tulsa shortstop Joey Wong couldn't snap off a throw. Rolando Gomez pinch ran for Widlansky and was bunted to second base by Carlos Ramirez. Cowart then fought off a pair of two-strike pitches before lining a single to right bringing Gomez to the plate ahead of the throw.
The Travelers received outstanding work on the mound on Tuesday especially out of the bullpen where Nick Maronde, Ryan Chaffee and Michael Morin combined to retire all 11 Tulsa batters faced. Starting pitcher Lay Batista worked around four walks and only allowed one run on a solo home run hit by Tom Murphy (1st at AA, 20th overall) in the fifth inning. Batista gave up five hits and struck out four batters in a no-decision.
Chaffee (3-2) earned the win with 1.2 inning of relief adding three strikeouts. Morin pitched a perfect inning for the save (5), but it was Maronde that helped Batista out of a jam in the seventh inning.
Batista allowed a leadoff single to Angelys Nina before retiring Juan Crousset on a fly out. Nina stole second base followed by a walk to Murphy. Then Jimmy Swift made a diving stop of a grounder hit by Jayson Langfels making sure that the runners would advance just one base. Maronde was summoned out of the pen and struck out Delta Cleary, Jr. then left the runners when Tyler Kuhn grounded to first.
Wednesday night the Travs send Mike Piazza (4-2, 3.31) back to the mound against Tulsa's left hander Tyler Matzek (8-8, 3.53). The game begins at 7:05 with coverage of the Travs Dugout Show beginning at 6:40 on Sports Animal 920, or the IHeartRadio and Tune In Radio Apps.