TULSA - The Tulsa Drillers opened up a four-game, Independence Day weekend series against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Thursday night, and their offensive struggles continued. The Drillers scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning, but it was all they offense they could generate as they fell to the Naturals 7-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 8,342, the largest of the season at ONEOK Field.
The Naturals took a quick lead in the top of the first. After Nick Heath led the inning off with a single, Gabriel Cancel hit a run-scoring double to the left-center gap. Emmanuel Rivera then gave Northwest Arkansas a 2-0 lead with an RBI single.
The Drillers got the two runs right back in the bottom of the first. Zach McKinstry walked to start the inning, and Omar Estevez followed with a single. Cristian Santana brought home the first Drillers run with a screaming, line drive double into the gap in left centerfield. Chris Parmelee followed with an RBI groundout, tying things up at 2-2.
Parker Curry, Tulsa's starting pitcher, settled in nicely after his shaky first inning. Curry retired 13 straight Naturals before trouble came in the top of the sixth. After a Cancel single, Meibrys Viloria doubled to give Northwest Arkansas a 3-2 lead.
The Naturals did not look back. They scored runs in each of the final three innings to extend the lead. In the seventh, a bases-loaded walk to Viloria plated a run, and an inning later, Angelo Castellano perfectly executed a squeeze bunt.
After a leadoff walk in the top of the ninth, Cancel capped his big night with a two-run homer, extending the Naturals lead to 7-2.
WHAT YOU MISSED
*Santana stayed hot with three hits in the loss, extending his hitting streak to five games. During that stretch, he is hitting .476 with a pair of doubles, a home run and two RBIs.
*Cody Thomas and Drew Avans made a couple great defensive plays in the outfield for Tulsa. In the top of the first, Khalil Lee crushed a deep fly ball to center. Thomas read the ball perfectly off the bat, running back to make a leaping catch at the wall to prevent a double. In the top of the fifth, Avans tracked down a ball hit just inside foul line in left and made a nice sliding catch to prevent extra-bases.
*Prior to Thursday night's game, the Drillers announced that Estevez was activated off the injured list. The infielder did not skip a beat, singling in his first at bat with Tulsa since May 14. Estevez is having a nice year with the Drillers so far, collecting 39 hits in 114 at bats, with an OPS of .868.
UP NEXT: Northwest Arkansas at Tulsa, Friday, July 5, 7:05 PM at ONEOK Field. RHP Jackson Kowar (0-1, 1.64 ERA) vs. J.D. Martin (2-6, 5.26 ERA).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.