TULSA - The Tulsa Drillers concluded one of their best homestands of the season Wednesday night with a 9-3 win over Springfield at ONEOK Field. The victory gave the Drillers a three-game sweep of the Cardinals and improved their record on the weeklong homestand to 6-1. It matches the best mark for a homestand this season.
The victory came from a combination of strong pitching and hitting. Starting pitcher Markus Solbach and two relievers combined to limit the Redbirds to just two hits. At the plate, Tulsa hit three home runs for the second time in its past three games.
As they had done in each of the first two games of the series with the Cardinals, the Drillers took an early lead by scoring in the bottom of the first inning. After leadoff batter Errol Robinson struck out, the Drillers delivered five straight hits. Omar Estevez started things with a single, and Chris Parmelee followed with an RBI double. Cody Thomas singled home Parmelee, and Donovan Casey picked up his first Double-A hit to put runners at the corners. The fifth straight hit came on a single by Chris Berman that plated Thomas. Casey completed the big four-run inning by scoring on a balk.
Solbach retired the Cardinals in order in each of the first two innings before surrendering a leadoff homer to Conner Capel to open the third. After a walk and a strikeout, Solbach threw away a potential inning-ending double play grounder to extend the inning. Following another ground out, Solbach appeared to escape the miscue when Yariel Gonzalez lofted a fly ball to left field, but Carlos Rincon had the ball bounce off his glove for the second error of the inning. The dropped fly allowed two runs to score and cut Tulsa's lead to 4-3.
Casey's big night continued in the third when he belted his first Double-A home run to push Tulsa's lead to two runs.
Berman singled home another run in the bottom of the fifth before back-to-back homers in the sixth provided the Drillers some breathing room. After Robinson singled with two outs, Estevez drove an opposite-field liner into the right field bullpens for his fifth home run of the season. One pitch later, Parmelee cleared the bullpens with a towering drive onto the grass berm for his tenth homer, upping the Drillers lead to 9-3.
After surviving the shaky third inning, Solbach settled back in to pick up his second straight win. The right-hander allowed just one hit in his seven-inning stint. He was charged with three runs, but only one was earned. In two starts since joining the Drillers last week, Solbach has given up only 5 hits and 1 earned run in 14 innings (0.64 ERA).
With the win, the Drillers were able to keep pace with first-place Arkansas in the North Division standings of the Texas League. Tulsa remains just one game behind the Travelers, and more importantly, moved four games in front of the Cardinals. If Arkansas repeats its first-half title in the second half, the team with the second-best overall record claims the second playoff berth. If that factor comes into play, the Drillers currently hold a 12.5-game lead.
WHAT YOU MISSED
*It marked the third time this season that the Drillers have compiled a 6-1 record in a homestand. They also accomplished the feat May 1-7 against Midland and Corpus Christi and June 17-23 against Frisco and Amarillo.
*It was big night for Casey in just his second Double-A game. The outfielder finished a perfect 3-3 and just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
*The first-inning single by Estevez extended his hitting streak to eight straight games. Rincon owns the longest hitting streak this season for a Drillers player, hitting safely in 13 straight games.
*Solbach executed a rare sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning. It was just the seventh sacrifice bunt of the season for the Drillers, a historically low number. The franchise record for fewest sacrifice hits in a season is 18 set in three different seasons, including the last two.
*Stetson Allie pitched a perfect eighth inning in relief of Solbach, recording two strikeouts. Logan Salow worked around a two-out walk and hit to complete a scoreless ninth inning.
UP NEXT: Tulsa at Northwest Arkansas, Thursday, August 8, 7:05 PM at Arvest Ballpar, Springdale, AR. RHP Parker Curry (4-5, 3.04 ERA) versus RHP Jackson Kowar (2-4, 3.02 ERA).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.