Fresh off a four-game sweep of the Springfield Cardinals, the Tulsa Drillers came into Wednesday night's series opener against the NW Arkansas Naturals looking to continue their recent hot streak. But although the Drillers made a valiant comeback attempt after finding themselves down 8-0 after the top of the fourth inning, they would be unable to dig themselves completely out of the hole as they fell to the Naturals 9-6 at ONEOK Field.
The Drillers had entered the evening tied with the Naturals for first place in the Texas League North Division after winning seven of their past ten ballgames. The loss dropped the Drillers a game back of first with six games remaining in the first half.
The game began as a scoreless affair as neither team was able to cross the plate over the first three innings. But that would change quickly in the fourth.
Tulsa starter Isaac Anderson began the fateful fourth by surrendering a double to Corey Toups and a single to Samir Duenez. After a fielder's choice scored Toups, the gates swung open for the Naturals as they followed with three straight singles to go up 3-0. Anderson then got Parker Morin to pop out to shortstop but walked Jack Lopez to load the bases.
That would be all for Anderson as Colt Hynes was brought in to try and salvage the situation. But the veteran would be unable to slow the NW Arkansas bats as gave up an RBI infield single to Alfredo Escalera followed by a wild pitch to bring home another run. That brought Toups up to the plate for the second time in the inning and he responded by launching a three-run blast over the left centerfield fence to cap the inning and put the visitors in front 8-0. It was Toups' first home run of the season for the Naturals.
The Drillers got a run back in the home half of the fourth as Edwin Rios doubled and was eventually driven in on an RBI single from Wynston Sawyer to get Tulsa on the board.
After the rough fourth inning, Hynes was able to settle in and delivered three scoreless innings of relief to help swing momentum back in Tulsa's favor.
Rios helped jumpstart the Drillers again in the sixth inning as he hit a one-out single to help get Tulsa's offense rolling again. After Quincy Latimore grounded out, Matt Beaty singled and Sawyer reached base safely when NW Arkansas shortstop Humberto Arteaga misplayed a groundball. That would be all for Naturals starter Foster Griffin as Ashton Goudeau came into the game in relief.
Jose Miguel Fernandez and Johan Mieses greeted Goudeau with run-scoring base knocks to help draw the Drillers to within 8-4, before Goudeau was able to escape the jam with a strikeout of Jacob Scavuzzo to end the inning.
Following a scoreless seventh and eighth innings, the Naturals took advantage of a one-out throwing error by Drillers shortstop Erick Mejia in the ninth to pad their lead. With Logan Moon on second after the throwing miscue, Arteaga drove his teammate in with an RBI double into left field off Ralston Cash to put the visitors on top 9-4.
The Drillers would not go down without a fight though as they scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to draw to within 9-6 on an RBI groundout from Rios and a wild pitch from Naturals closer Jake Newberry. But that would be as close as Tulsa would get as Newberry was able to get Latimore to ground out to third to close out the contest, picking up his eighth save of the season.
Griffin saw his record improve to 3-1 after his 5.2 innings of work while Anderson saw his record drop to 0-8.
The Drillers and Naturals will continue their 5-game series with a pair of seven-inning games tomorrow to make up for a previous game that was rained out back on April 29. The Drillers have yet to announce their starter for Game 1 of the doubleheader, but are scheduled to send out RHP David Hale (0-0, 3.38 ERA) in the nightcap. The Naturals plan to pitch LHP Onelki Garcia (0-0, 0.00 ERA) in Game 1 followed by fellow southpaw Jake Kalish (0-0, 4.32 ERA) in Game 2. First pitch in Game 1 is scheduled for 5:30 PM while the second game will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.