The Midland RockHounds returned to ONEOK Field to face the Tulsa Drillers on Sunday afternoon for the first time since winning the Texas League Championship last September. The RockHounds again proved to be a Tulsa nemesis in the series opener as the teams combined for six home runs in a high-scoring battle that saw the Hounds come out on top, 10-9.
The Drillers got the scoring started in the bottom of the second. Connor Joe led the inning off by launching a ball beyond the Busch Terrace in left field to put Tulsa on top 1-0.
Yadier Alvarez got the start on the mound for the Drillers, and things started off according to plan as he struck out two and gave up only one hit in the first two innings. But things unraveled in the top of the third. After two doubles, two walks and a single, Alvarez's day was over.
Shea Spitzbarth came in and immediately gave up a walk and then a bases clearing double to give Midland a 6-1 lead.
The wind conditions were just right at ONEOK Field in order to stage a comeback attempt as rare north breeze was blowing out to left-center field on a chilly afternoon. D.J. Peters and Drew Jackson each homered in the third and fourth innings to cut into the Midland lead, while Kyle Garlick singled home a run and Joe hit his second long-ball of the game in the fifth and sixth innings to put the Drillers within a run at 7-6.
Midland added single runs in both the seventh and eighth innings, but Tulsa again rallied. With runners at first and second in the bottom of the eighth, Errol Robinson delivered a run-scoring double, followed by Peters walking to load the bases.
Garlick then hit a grounder deep in the hole at short. Midland shortstop Eli White backhanded the grounder and elected to go for the short force-out at third, but he threw wide of the bag, allowing a pair of Drillers runs to score and even the score at 9-9.
It did not take Midland long to provide a response. In the top of the ninth, Sean Murphy hit a solo home run off Daniel Corcino to give Midland a one-run advantage.
The Drillers threatened in the bottom half of the ninth, but could not push across a run. They put runners on first and second with two outs, but Midland closer Jake Sanchez struck out Robinson to end the threat and the game.
WHAT YOU MISSED
*Sunday marked the second straight game in which the Drillers defense did not allow an error. Tulsa leads the Texas League with 16 defensive miscues.
*The 19 combined runs scored were a season high for a Drillers game this season.
*The Drillers four home runs matched their season high they also set against Midland on April 8. They now have 22 long-balls this season.
*Garlick has hit safely in six of his last seven games to improve his average to a team-leading .359.
*After Joe's two-homer game, he leads the team in OPS at 1.372.
*Peters matched a season high with his second three-hit game of the year. His 3-4 performance raised his average to .333.
*Alvarez was charged with five runs in his 2.1 innings of work.
*It was Jackie Robinson Day throughout professional baseball on Sunday, and all Drillers players and coaches wore Robinson's number 42 to honor the baseball pioneer.
The Drillers will look to start another winning streak on Monday afternoon as they will face Midland again in a Monday afternoon game. The scheduled starting pitchers are:
Midland RHP Joel Seddon (1-0, 1.64 ERA)
Tulsa RHP Dennis Santana (0-1, 2.79 ERA)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.