Wong drives Drillers one win from crown

Dodgers No. 28 prospect hits two-run shot in Game 3 victory

Connor Wong compiled a .349/.393/.604 slash line in 40 Texas League games since a July 15 promotion. (Tim Campbell/MiLB.com)

By Katie Woo / MiLB.com | September 14, 2019 12:15 AM

Offense dominated the first two games of the Texas League Championship Series, but the outcome of Game 3 was determined by one swing of the bat.

Dodgers No. 28 prospect Connor Wong hammered a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning, powering Tulsa to a 2-0 win over Amarillo on Friday night at ONEOK Field. The victory gave the reigning champions a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-5 series.

Video: Tulsa's Wong hammers two-run homer

A far cry from Tulsa's 18-9 victory in Game 2, Friday's contest featured a duel between the Drillers' Markus Solbach and the Sod Poodles' Kyle Lloyd. The right-handers locked horns in a scoreless tie through five frames, with Lloyd surrendering two hits and Solbach permitting one.

Gameday box score

In the sixth, Wong changed everything. Dodgers No. 6 prospect Jeter Downs laced a two-out single off Lloyd, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch with Wong at-bat. With the go-ahead run 90 feet away, the 2017 third-round pick crushed the next offering into the left field bleachers.

"I was really excited," Wong said. "Obviously, that was a big point in the game, nobody had scored yet.

"I don't know if he was frazzled, but obviously, [Lloyd] didn't want to throw another [wild pitch] and let Jeter score. I was just looking for a good pitch to hit, something I could put some good wood on. Fortunately, I got one."

Wong has hit safely in all eight playoff games, going 13-for-30 (.433) with three homers 11 RBIs. In his opinion, his success is a combination of feeling comfortable at the plate and striving to perform in high-pressure situations.

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"It's probably a little bit of both," he said. "I'm seeing the ball well and I'm confident in what I'm doing out there. But I can only control what happens before the ball leaves my bat. I've been lucky so far."

Wong's round-tripper was all the offense Tulsa needed, thanks to a stellar performance by Solbach, who shut down the Sod Poodles through the eighth. Overall, the 28-year-old scattered four hits and struck out six without walking a batter in his longest outing since 2016. 

However, with the top of the order due up in the ninth, Amarillo didn't make it easy on the Drillers. Righty Nolan Long set down the first two batters, striking out second-ranked Padres prospect Taylor Trammell and retiring Ivan Castillo on a groundout to first. But No. 17 prospect Edward Olivares worked a four-pitch walk and 10th-ranked Owen Miller whacked a first-pitch single.

With two on and two out, Luis Torrens worked a 1-1 count but popped Long's third pitch to second base, where Omar Estevez squeezed the final out.

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"I was pretty confident in Nolan and knowing he was going to get that last out there," Wong said. "He made some good pitches to Olivares that didn't go his way, and Owen's a good hitter. He put a good swing on the pitch and it found a hole. But Nolan got ahead of [Torrens] and I felt really comfortable from there."

Castillo doubled on a 2-for-4 night, while Trammell, Miller and No. 11 prospect Hudson Potts had the Sod Poodles' other hits. Lloyd (0-1) gave up two runs on four hits and two walks, striking out six through seven innings.

The Drillers totaled four hits, fewer than half the number of homers they hit in Game 2. Donovan Casey went 2-for-3 and, like Wong, has recorded a hit in each postseason contest.

Game 4 is Saturday at ONEOK Field.

Katie Woo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter View More