Drillers end Texas League title drought

Lux homers on first pitch, helps Tulsa cap three-game sweep

The Drillers won their last Texas League championship 20 years ago this week. (Tim Campbell/MiLB.com)

By Kyle Ringo / Special to MiLB.com | September 15, 2018 12:28 AM

SAN ANTONIO -- There were 10 men in the visitors' dugout Friday night at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium who understood all too well that the clinching victory of the Texas League Championship Series is the most difficult to get.

Those 10 Tulsa Drillers were on the roster last season when the club was in the same position, having won the first two games of the best-of-5 Championship Series, only to lose to Midland in five games.

Video: Lux starts game-ending double play for Tulsa

So when shortstop Gavin Lux led off Game 3 -- after a 48-minute rain delay -- and sent the very first pitch over the wall in right-center field, it allowed the Drillers to take a breath, relax and play free and easy the rest of the way en route to a 5-2 victory over San Antonio at Nelson Wolff Stadium.

"That's my goal is to try to get everyone going, try to get the momentum on our side and then keep it, especially in playoff games," said Lux, the Dodgers' No. 6 prospect. "It's huge to get that momentum and keep rolling and spark-plug everyone else."

Gameday box score

Tulsa scored in each of the first three innings and never trailed en route to a three-game sweep and its first Texas League championship since 1998, ending the longest title drought in the circuit. 

Drillers manager Scott Hennessey had a bucket of water dumped over his head by one of his players after watching his team celebrate in a big blue mob around the pitcher's mound.

"It was a tough series," Hennessey said. "We won the thing, 3-0, and it could have very easily been the other way. Just one pitch here or there, but things went our way and guys hung in there when we had some adversity. All the credit to them."

With his leadoff blast, Lux became the fourth consecutive batter to homer off Missions starter Jesse Scholtens. He was chased from his previous postseason outing against Corpus Christi after serving up back-to-back-to-back jacks in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the South Division finals.

Scholtens (0-1) regrouped and went five innings, striking out seven before being lifted for a pinch-hitter.

Complete postseason coverage »

Tulsa starter Dustin May (1-0), the Dodgers' fourth-ranked prospect with long red hair trailing out from under his cap, earned the win with five solid innings. He gave up two runs on seven hits, including a solo homer by Peter Van Gansen, striking out three without issuing a walk.

The Drillers got some breathing room with two outs in the seventh when Dodgers No. 8 prospect DJ Peters and Jacob Scavuzzo hit back-to-back homers off reliever Travis Radke.

Video: Peters smacks solo homer for Tulsa

Hennessey said his players were well aware of what happened last year, thanks to the veterans on the team. Those players kept the team focused and determined, helping the Drillers to close victories in the first two games and a less stressful clincher.

"This group was very mature, didn't take anything for granted," the skipper said. "They were ready to play tonight."

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San Antonio pitchers surrendered 14 of the 30 homers hit in the playoffs, while Tulsa's bullpen did not allow a run in the series.

"That was kind of a question coming into the Finals, 'Was the bullpen going to hold up, especially the back end,'" Hennessey said. "It's a credit to them guys. They studied their hitters, made pitches and great effort out of all of them."

The loss not only ended the season in the Texas League but marked the end of Double-A baseball in San Antonio. The current club is moving north to Amarillo in the offseason and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox will relocate to San Antonio and change their name to the Missions while continue playing in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

This also was the end of San Antonio's affiliation with the Texas League, which dates to 1888 with only a few brief interruptions.

Kyle Ringo is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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