The Tulsa Drillers returned to ONEOK Field Sunday night to begin a four-game homestand following a four-game road trip that saw them hit a solid .292 as a club. And the Tulsa bats would stay hot at home as they overcame an early 3-0 deficit with eleven runs over three innings to claim a 11-7 victory over the Arkansas Travelers.
Seven different Drillers chipped in with a multi-hit game Sunday, led by Jose Miguel Fernandez who finished the night 3-5 with a home run and three RBI's.
The Travelers took the early lead Sunday with three runs in the third. A leadoff walk from Tulsa knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa to Joey Wong got the inning going for Arkansas. Four straight hits by the Travs to follow the walk would then plate three runs before Gamboa was able to get out of the inning with a double-play ball.
Tim Locastro helped the Drillers respond quickly in the home half of the inning as he led off the frame with a single before eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Fernandez then launched a solo shot onto the right-field grass berm. The home run was the 13th of the season for Fernandez and brought the Drillers to within a run of the Travs.
They would get that run in the fourth, along with quite a few more, thanks to a two-out flurry of hits.
Erick Mejia led off the bottom of the fourth with a base hit and Blake Gailen followed with a walk. Arkansas starter Brett Ash then recorded the next two outs and looked as if he might escape the inning unscathed. But Locastro got the scoring started with a base hit to plate Mejia and tie the ballgame up. Following a run-scoring single by Errol Robinson and a walk to Henry Ramos, the Travs called in reliever Kyle Hunter to try and put out the fire.
But Hunter would not be able to slow down the Tulsa offense as Fernandez hit a two-run single, before Peter O'Brien hit a no-doubt, three-run home run to left to put the Drillers in front 9-3. Mejia then hit a triple in his second at-bat of the inning, and Gailen drove him in with another two-out base hit. That would cap the inning with the eight Drillers runs going on the board.
The eight runs in the inning, tied the Tulsa season-high mark as the club matched the same output they produced back on May 8 in a 9-3 win over the Springfield Cardinals.
Tulsa added one more run in the fifth as Darien Tubbs doubled and was then singled in by Robinson to make the score 11-3.
The Travs made things interesting with four runs in the sixth off Tulsa reliever Chris Cotton after Gamboa exited the game. But that would be as close as they would get as Shea Spitzbarth and Brian Moran threw a combined 3.1 innings of scoreless relief to close out the ballgame.
Gamboa was credited with his first victory of the season with Tulsa while Ash saw his record drop to 5-9 with the loss.
With the win, the Drillers also improved their second-half record to 15-8 as they have now won nine of their past thirteen games.
The Drillers and Travelers will play the second game of their four-game set tomorrow night. The Travelers will send out right-hander Dylan Unsworth (8-6, 3.43 ERA) to start the contest while the Drillers have yet to announce a starting pitcher. First pitch at ONEOK Field is scheduled for 7:05 PM on Mega Money Monday.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.