It took extra innings, but the Tulsa Drillers opened a four-game series with Springfield Sunday afternoon with a win at ONEOK Field. After the Tulsa bullpen failed to hold a late lead for one of the few times this season, the Drillers rallied for a run in the bottom of the tenth inning for a 4-3 win over the Cardinals. The winning run scored on an infield single by Cristhian Adames.
The game-winning rally began with a one-out, pinch-hit double by Tyler Massey. The Cards elected to intentionally walk Taylor Featherston before summoning lefthander Justin Wright to face Joey Wong. Wright loaded the bases by walking Wong on four straight pitches, bringing Adames to the plate. On a 2-2 count, the Tulsa shortstop hit a chopper that deflected off the glove of a leaping Wright. The pitcher could not locate the ball before Featherston crossed the plate with the winning run.
The Drillers won despite entering the 10th inning with only four hits. The Redbirds produced 11 hits off five different Tulsa pitchers.
The Drillers got some help from the Cardinals in the bottom of the first inning to open the game's scoring. Leadoff batter Featherston reached on a throwing error by third baseman Patrick Wisdom, and Wong singled. After a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout, Springfield starting pitcher Sam Gaviglio threw a wild pitch that allowed Featherston to come home and give Tulsa a 1-0 lead.
The Drillers would maintain their one-run lead until they added two more runs in the sixth. Ryan Casteel made it 2-0 with a run-scoring double, while Adames singled and scored on a wild pitch to make it a three-run margin.
The Cardinals got on the scoreboard with a run in the seventh against reliever Ken Roberts. Aledmys Diaz and Mike O'Neill singled in front of a run-scoring double from Jacob Wilson. With runners at second and third, the Drillers kept the lead when Roberts struck out James Ramsey and Nelson Gonzalez retired Jonathan Rodriguez on a fly out.
Springfield completely erased the Tulsa lead in the eighth inning. The Cards opened the inning with consecutive singles by Patrick Wisdom and Starlin Rodriguez off Kraig Sitton. Following a sacrifice bunt, a passed ball by catcher Jose Gonzalez allowed Wisdom to score to make it 3-2.
A base hit by pinch-hitter Curt Smith plated Rodriguez to tie the game and set up the extra frames.
Tulsa starting pitcher Jon Gray turned in a solid outing, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out five in five shutout innings. Ramsey provided a slight scare for the Tulsa pitcher in the third inning. The centerfielder hit a liner that deflected off the leg of the pitcher for a base hit. Trainer Chris Dovey made a quick visit to check on Gray before determining he would remain in the game.
The Drillers and Cardinals will be back in action Monday night with the second game of their four-game series. The pitching matchup will feature a pair of lefthanders. Tulsa will send Carlos Hernandez (1-4, 2.44 ERA) to the mound, while Springfield will counter with Jonathan Cornelius (6-5, 3.82 ERA). Starting time for the final game of the first half is slated for 7:05PM at ONEOK Field.