Drillers Fail to Hold Early Lead in 8-6 Loss
TULSA, OK – The Tulsa Drillers failed to hold a four-run lead on Saturday night as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals rallied to defeat Tulsa 8-6 at ONEOK Field. Ryan Ward and Lael Lockhart helped give the Drillers the early lead, as Ward drove in the first three runs, and Lockhart
TULSA, OK – The Tulsa Drillers failed to hold a four-run lead on Saturday night as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals rallied to defeat Tulsa 8-6 at ONEOK Field. Ryan Ward and Lael Lockhart helped give the Drillers the early lead, as Ward drove in the first three runs, and Lockhart held the Naturals to just one run on three hits through the first five innings.
Ward’s damage came early. The Drillers first two batters in the bottom of the first inning reached on a single and an error. Ward then singled to left to score Leonel Valera to and put Tulsa up 1-0.
In the second inning, two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Tulsa, and Ward again delivered. With a 2-0 count, he singled to left, plating Abiatal Avelino and Valera to give the Drillers a three-run lead.
Lockhart commanded the first two innings as he retired the first eight batters he faced before giving up the first hit and run for the Naturals in the third inning.
Angelo Castellano tripled with two outs, and Tucker Bradley plated him with a single to make the score 3-1.
Ryan January expanded the Drillers lead in the fifth. With two outs, January roped a single to right center field, scoring Taylor and Ward to give Tulsa a 5-1 lead.
Lockhart was still in command as he entered the sixth inning, having struck out six batters to that point. With one out, a walk and a single prompted Manager Scott Hennessey to make a change and bring in Jordan Leasure from the bullpen. The Naturals earned their second run on Luca Tresh’s double to center. John Rave then grounded out to score a second run, and Seuly Matias doubled to left to score another and bring the score to 5-4.
Northwest Arkansas tied the game in the seventh inning on Morgan McCullough's lead-off solo homer.
Tulsa reliever Jose Hernandez kept the game tied as he entered with two outs in the seventh and recorded the next four outs.
The Naturals broke the tie in the top of the ninth on a two-out, three-run homer by Tyler Gentry off Tulsa reliever Nick Robertson.
Trailing 8-5, Tulsa made some noise in the bottom of the ninth, scoring one run on Brandon Lewis' RBI single. Following the single, the Drillers had the bases-loaded with two outs, but Naturals’ reliever Kasey Kalich retired January on strikes to end the game.
HIGHLIGHTS AND HAPPENINGS:
*The Drillers wore replica jerseys from the 1982 season in the game to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Drillers first Texas League Championship. Many members of the 1982 team were in attendance, including former major league pitchers Mike Mason and Tom Henke. Henke was a member of Toronto’s 1992 World Series Champion and was inducted into Drillers Wall of Fame in 2002.
*Tulsa’s pitching staff struck out 11 batters on the night. The Drillers continue to lead the Texas League with 1,213 strikeouts, 26 more than second-place Wichita.
*Tulsa was 4-13 with runners in scoring position, leaving ten runners on base.
*Jeren Kendall stole two bases as he continues to lead the team with 19 steals this season.
*The Drillers are just three home runs away from breaking the team single-season home run record. Tulsa has hit 182 homers in 2022. The franchise record is 184, set in 2018.
*The Drillers and the Naturals will meet again on Sunday night in the final game of their six-game series. Starting time is set for 6:05 p.m. at ONEOK Field and the starting pitchers are scheduled to be:
NW Arkansas – RHP Alec Marsh (1-13, 7.70 ERA)
Tulsa – RHP Nick Nastrini (1-1, 3.24 ERA)