Springdale, AR - After dropping a long twelve-inning game on Friday night, the Tulsa Drillers looked to bounce back and split the four-game series against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Saturday evening. They would do just that as Blake Gailen led the way with a homer and four RBIs in the Drillers 7-6 victory.
The Drillers got the scoring started in the top of the second. Matt Beaty led the inning off with a single, and then Jose Fernandez and Peter O'Brien both walked to load the bases. Gailen then grounded out to plate Beaty for the first run of the night. The next batter was Quincy Latimore who provided a sacrifice fly to give the Drillers a 2-0 lead.
Henry Ramos led the top of the third off with a double, and then Fernandez hit a single to put runners at the corner. O'Brien would then ground out to third and bring home Ramos to bring the Drillers lead to 3-0.
Walker Buehler got the start for Tulsa and hit the ground running. His first three innings were solid as he struck out seven Naturals and allowed only two hits. But in the bottom of the fourth, the wheels started to fall off for Buehler. He walked the first three batters in the inning, and then recorded his eighth strikeout of the game.
With the bases loaded, the next two Northwest Arkansas batters provided a sacrifice fly and a single to narrow their deficit to 3-2. That would be the end of the night for Buehler, who was replaced by Michael Johnson. On Johnson's first pitch, Cody Jones cleared the bases with a double and gave the Naturals a 4-3 lead.
Buehler's night ended with him pitching 3.2 innings, as he was charged with four runs on three hits. He issued four walks while striking out eight.
The Naturals would tack on a couple in the bottom of the sixth. With Johnson still pitching, the inning started with Humberto Arteaga reaching on a throwing error by Erick Mejia, followed by a single by Donald Dewees Jr. After recording an out, Johnson threw a wild pitch to put runners at second and third. Nick Dini then hit an RBI single to plate a run for Northwest Arkansas. Another run came home by way of a fielding error by Errol Robinson, giving the Naturals a 6-3 lead.
The Drillers would then come right back in a big way. In the top of the seventh, Ramos led the inning off with a walk, followed by Beaty singling to center. After it looked like the Naturals would escape the inning with a pair of strikeouts, Gailen delivered in the clutch as he blasted his third home run of the season to tie things up at 6-6.
After a quiet bottom of the seventh, Robinson would make up for the error he had made earlier in the game. With one out in the eighth, he singled, and then stole second, and ended up at third on a throwing error by Naturals catcher Nick Dini. Mejia then knocked him in with an RBI single, giving the Drillers a 7-6 lead.
Corey Copping came into the game in the ninth looking to notch the save. He got the first two batters by way of a groundout and a strikeout, but then allowed a double. But with the tying run at second, he got Anderson Miller to ground out to seal the victory for the Drillers and earn his ninth save of the season.
The Drillers will return home on Sunday night and will face the Arkansas Travelers next in a four-game set. Brett Ash (5-8, 6.52 ERA) will get the start for Arkansas and will face the Tulsa starter who is TBD. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM at ONEOK Field.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.