The Tulsa Drillers got a dramatic home run from Cade Cabbiness Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Texas Collegiate League best-of-three playoff series with the Amarillo Sod Squad, but still fell short of claiming a victory. A two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth from the Oklahoma State
The Tulsa Drillers got a dramatic home run from Cade Cabbiness Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Texas Collegiate League best-of-three playoff series with the Amarillo Sod Squad, but still fell short of claiming a victory. A two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth from the Oklahoma State outfielder tied the game and sent it into extra innings, but the Sod Squad pushed across a run in the top of the tenth. The Drillers were unable to score in the bottom of the inning, and the Sod Squad escaped with a 4-3 opening-game win.
The loss leaves the Drillers with no margin for error in the division series. They will now have to travel to Amarillo and win consecutive games at Hodgetown to gain a place in the TCL Championship Game.
Early in Tuesday’s matchup, it appeared as if the Drillers might cruise to a victory. They put at least two runners on base in each of the first four innings, but only scored in the second.
They plated two runs in that second, but it could have been much more, as the first four batters hit safely. Singles from Aidan Nagle and Alec Sanchez to open the inning put runners at first and second. Max Hewitt grounded a base hit just inside the third base bag to plate Nagle with the game’s first run. Jaden Brown delivered the fourth straight hit to load the bases. After Ryan Cash struck out, Cam Chick beat out an infield single as Sanchez came home with the second run.
With bases still loaded and just one out, quite possibly the biggest play of the game took place. On a full-count pitch, Jamal O’Guinn appeared to take a ball four that would have forced home the third run, but it was instead called a strike three. Any hopes of a big inning ended when Jordan Wiley then lined softly to short, ending the threat.
Tulsa starting pitcher Cade Winquest pitched in and out of trouble through the first three innings, but the Sod Squad finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. After reliever Garrett Crowley walked the leadoff batter, a pair of singles loaded the bases with no outs. After a strikeout, Tommy Williams singled home a run to cut the Tulsa lead in half.
Crowley escaped further trouble when he got a double-play grounder from the dangerous David Marcano to end the inning.
The Sod Squad went in front in the top of the sixth. Consecutive singles off Crowley to open the inning put runners at the corners. Adam Tulloch was summoned from the bullpen and got a pop out before throwing a wild pitch that brought home the tying run.
Following a walk that put runners at first and third, Williams hit a ground ball to O’Guinn at first. His throw home was easily in time to cut down the runner, but it was wide of the plate allowing Lyle Miller-Green to slide in safely with the run that gave the Squad a 3-2 lead.
Amarillo carried the lead into the bottom of the ninth, and after closer Everett Hurst struck out the first two hitters of the inning, was within one out of win. Enter Bixby, Oklahoma native Cabbiness. The outfielder launched a Hurst offering well beyond the right-center field fence and into the back of the bullpens for a game-tying home run.
The euphoria for the Drillers was short lived. In the top of the tenth, and a runner placed at second, Tulloch got a strikeout before issuing an intentional walk and another walk to load the bases. Ninth-place hitter Wes Toups then delivered what proved to be the game-winning hit when he lined a Tulloch offering into centerfield for a run-scoring single.
TULSA HITTERS:The Drillers totaled 12 hits in the game, their second-highest total of the season.
Cabbiness led a group of four Tulsa hitters that each had two hits in the game. Joining Cabiness with two were Nagle, Sanchez and Hewitt.
Tulsa got at least one hit from each spot in the order with the exception of the cleanup spot.
The Drillers struck out 17 times, the most in a game this season.
They put runners on base in every inning but the eighth and stranded a total of 13.In the bottom of the tenth, the Drillers were unable to take advantage of the placed runner, despite a one-out wild pitch. With the tying run just 90 feet from home, Humberto Torres and pinch-hitter Hueston Morrill both struck out to end the game and give the Sod Squad the important Game 1 win.
TULSA PITCHERS: Winquest lasted just 2.2 innings as he suffered with control issues. The University of Texas-Arlington right-hander allowed only one hit, but he walked four without allowing a run.
Crowley was charged with three runs on five hits in 2.1 relief innings.
Tulloch was charged with the loss, but he deserved a better fate. The West Virginia lefthander held the Squad without a run for four innings before the placed runner scored the winning run in the top of the tenth.
Zach Maxwell relieved Tulloch and got the final two outs in the tenth.
Tulsa pitchers combined to walk nine batters in the game.
UP NEXT: The Drillers and Sod Squad will now travel to Amarillo for Game 2 Wednesday night and, if necessary, Game 3 on Thursday evening. Starting time on both Wednesday and Thursday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Hodgetown. The Drillers will need to win both games to keep their season alive.
All Texas Collegiate League playoff games can be viewed online with a subscription to TCL-TV.