On a picture-perfect day in downtown Tulsa Sunday afternoon, the Tulsa Drillers provided a picture-perfect ending. Trailing 3-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Drillers offense came to life with a two-run homer from Kyle Parker and a walk-off, game-winning hit from Dustin Garneau. The late heroics produced a thrilling 4-3 victory over Northwest Arkansas in front of 6,136 fans.
After being limited to only two hits through the first eight innings, the Drillers offense came to life in the ninth. Angelys Nina opened the inning with a base hit to centerfield off Naturals reliever Santiago Garrido. After Kent Matthes struck out, Parker drilled the first pitch from Garrido into the terrace section in left field to tie the score at 3-3.
Garrido recovered to retire Henry Wrigley on a pop up, before Jayson Langfels extended the inning by dropping a hit into shallow centerfield. Langfels, hustling out the batter's box, turned the soft fly into a double, setting the stage for Garneau.
The catcher worked a 2-0 count before driving a ball into centerfield. Centerfielder Yem Prades misjudged the drive before racing back. He was unable to catch up to the drive as the ball dropped safely, allowing Langfels to come home with the winning run.
The heroics overturned what looked to be a game-winning rally from the Naturals in the top of the seventh. With the score tied at 1-1, Tulsa starting pitcher Christian Bergman seemed on his way to an easy seventh inning after retiring the first two batters, but Mitch Canham drew a two-out walk. The pass proved costly when Prades dropped a single into centerfield, and catcher Manny Pina followed with a double that plated both base runners to give the Naturals a 3-1 lead.
Prior to the ninth inning rally, the only offense from the Drillers came in the very first inning, without the benefit of a hit. Delta Cleary Jr. drew a leadoff walk from Naturals' starter Brooks Pounder, then swiped second base and move to third on Pina's throwing error. Angelys Nina brought Cleary Jr. home with a bloop single into right field.
The Naturals leveled the score at 1-1 in the fourth on Angel Franco's solo home run, his first of the season.
The game remained tied until Northwest Arkansas' two-out rally in the seventh.
Pina's two-run double in the seventh inning tarnished what was shaping out to be another strong performance for Tulsa's Bergman. After allowing six runs in his last outing, he was back in top form Sunday afternoon. Through the first six innings, the right-hander allowed one run, Franco's homer, on just two hits, while throwing over 70 percent of his pitches for strikes. Though he did not receive the win, it was a still a quality start for Bergman, who ended up allowing three runs and only one walk through seven innings.
In his first relief appearance with the Drillers, newcomer Juan Gonzalez recorded his first victory after working a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Drillers will conclude their 8-game homestand with a Monday morning game at ONEOK Field. The pitching matchup will feature Tulsa's Chad Bettis (1-1, 2.91 ERA), who recorded 11 strikeouts in his last outing, against Sugar Marimon (1-2, 4.43 ERA) of Northwest Arkansas. First pitch is slated for 11:05AM in downtown Tulsa.
For radio listeners, Monday's game will switch stations to AM1300, The Buzz in Tulsa. The broadcast will also be available at TulsaDrillers.com, or through the I Heart Radio app or website.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.