SPRINGDALE, Ark - The Tulsa Drillers (14-8, 47-45) scored a late run in the eighth inning to claim the series finale over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (11-11, 50-42) by a 7-6 final as the two teams split the 4-game series at Arvest Ballpark.
Locked in a 6-6 game in the eighth, Errol Robinson got the visitors from Oklahoma going with a one-out single to center and then promptly applied some pressure by stealing second before advancing to third on a throwing error by the Naturals' catcher. With the go-ahead run at third, Erick Mejia came through with a RBI single to plate the game-winning run for the Drillers.
Tulsa raced out to an early 3-0 lead in Saturday night's contest with a couple of runs in the second and another in the third. Matt Beaty singled while Jose Fernandez and Peter O'Brien followed with back-to-back walks to load the bases. The Drillers tallied their first run on a RBI fielder's choice by Blake Gailen before Quincy Latimore added a sacrifice fly. Then in the third, Henry Ramos doubled and advanced to third on a single by Fernandez before scoring on a RBI fielder's choice by O'Brien.
Northwest Arkansas would erupt for four runs in the fourth as Samir Duenez , Anderson Miller , and Humberto Arteaga all walked to begin the frame. With one out Alfredo Escalera got the Naturals on the board with a sacrifice fly to plate Duenez, which made the score 3-1. Nick Dini followed with a RBI single and then Cody Jones delivered a two-run double for a 4-3 lead.
The Naturals would score a couple of unearned runs in the sixth to stretch the advantage to 6-3 as Dini collected his second RBI single of the night and then Donnie Dewees, Jr. scored on a defensive miscue by Robinson on a Nicky Lopez grounder. The three-run lead though would be short-lived as the Drillers came back in the top of the seventh. Ramos worked a walk and advanced to second on a single by Beaty before Gailen jumped on the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer and a 6-6 game.
Gailen led the offensive attack for Tulsa by driving in four runs while Dini and Jones each had two RBI for Northwest Arkansas.
Neither starting pitcher got out of the fourth inning or factored into the decision on Saturday night as RHP Glenn Sparkman gave up three runs in 3.1 innings while Tulsa RHP Walker Buehler gave up four runs in 3.2 innings pitched. RHP Andrew Thurman (1-1) collected the win in relief for the Drillers while LHP Jake Kalish (0-4) was tagged with the loss for the Naturals.
RHP Corey Copping (S, 9) worked around a two-out double by Duenez to pick up his ninth save and second of the series.
Tonight's game concluded the series against the Tulsa Drillers. Northwest Arkansas will now hit the road tomorrow - Sunday, July 16 - to begin a four (4) game series with the Springfield Cardinals (Double-A St. Louis Cardinals) at Hammons Field from Sunday, July 16 through Wednesday, July 19 before returning to Arvest Ballpark to host the Tulsa Drillers (Double-A Los Angeles Dodgers) for another four (4) game set from Thursday, July 20 through Sunday, July 23. The Naturals will turn to RHP Corey Ray (5-6, 4.19 ERA) in the series opener and he'll be opposed by RHP Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.04 ERA) of the Cardinals. Catch all of the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket, your home for Naturals baseball, at 5:50 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading to first pitch from Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri.
Follow the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Facebook and Twitter @NWANaturals all throughout the year by using the hashtag #NaturalPastime and #CrowntoCrown for all of our up-to-date information on Season 10 of Naturals baseball.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark. For more information, including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.