Only 24 hours after opening the 2018 Texas League North Division Playoff Series with a heartbreaking loss, the Tulsa Drillers bounced back in a big way Thursday night in North Little Rock. The Drillers got an early homer from Cael Brockmeyer, three more hits from Keibert Ruiz and another impressive outing from Ben Holmes. The result was a 6-0 Drillers victory that evened the best-of-five series at one game apiece.
Cael Brockmeyer made sure he and his teammates quickly forgot the previous night's tough loss as he staked Tulsa to an early lead with a solo home run in the top of the first inning.
It was a lead the Drillers would never surrender, adding to it with runs in three of the next four innings. In the second, the red-hot Ruiz led off with a base hit and then stole his first base of the season. He eventually scored Tulsa's second run when Mike Ahmed grounded a base hit into centerfield.
Brockmeyer led off the third with a base hit, and Jacob Scavuzzo delivered a one-out double. Ruiz singled home Brockmeyer before Scavuzzo scored on an error to up the Drillers lead to 4-0.
Tulsa was held without a run in the fourth before making it a five-run cushion in the fifth. D.J. Peters reached after being hit by a pitch and advanced to third on Ruiz's third hit of the game. Peters scored on a sacrifice fly by Zach Reks to make it 5-0.
Scavuzzo closed out the win with a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning.
Holmes delivered in a big game for the second time in a week. The lefthander was the winning pitcher in Tulsa's win over Northwest Arkansas last Friday that clinched the Drillers playoff berth. Against the Travs Thursday in a near, must-win situation, Holmes allowed only 1 hit in 6.2 shutout innings. He did walk four batters but struck out eight.
Andre Scrubb followed Holmes to the mound and worked one inning. Shea Spitzbarth recorded the final four outs to close out the win and pick up the save.
The two teams will now move to Tulsa for Game 3 of the series Friday night at ONEOK Field. The Drillers will host all of the remaining games in the series with each team needing two wins to clinch the series and claim a spot in the Texas League Championship Series.
WHAT YOU MISSED:
*Errol Robinson started at third base for the Drillers, but it was a short night for the Ole Miss product. Robinson appeared to injure himself swinging at a pitch in the top of the second inning and was immediately replaced by Zach McKinstry.
*Ruiz is enjoying post-season play, picking up three hits in each of the first two games against the Travs. Last year in the TL playoffs, Ruiz was held without a hit in six at-bats.
*Holmes, who has now delivered two of the biggest wins of the year, did not join the Drillers this season until the first week of August. He was signed to a minor league contract by the Los Angeles Dodgers after he was released from the Miami Marlins minor league system.
*The weather forecast for the Little Rock area initially called for an 80% chance of rain on Thursday due to what was once Tropical Storm Gordon, but conditions stayed dry until rain drops started to fall with the game's final batter at the plate.
*Corpus Christi took a commanding 2-0 lead in the South Division Playoff Series on Thursday with its second straight win over San Antonio. The winner of that series will face the winner of the Tulsa-Arkansas series in TL Championship Series that is scheduled to begin next Tuesday, September 11.
The best-of-five series will now shift to Tulsa's ONEOK Field for Game 3 Friday night, and if necessary, Games 4 and 5 on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. First pitch for Friday's Game 3 is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. A FOX23 Friday Night Fireworks Spectacular will light up the downtown skies after the game. The starting pitchers for Game 3 are slated to be:
ARK Chris Mazza (1-0, 1.33 ERA)
TUL Dustin May (2-2, 3.67 ERA)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.