Springdale, AR- The Tulsa Drillers were rolling and looked to be on their way to a comfortable win Thursday night, but a wild eighth inning brought the Northwest Arkansas Naturals within one run. The Drillers escaped the four-run eighth and retired the Naturals in order in the ninth to hold
Springdale, AR- The Tulsa Drillers were rolling and looked to be on their way to a comfortable win Thursday night, but a wild eighth inning brought the Northwest Arkansas Naturals within one run. The Drillers escaped the four-run eighth and retired the Naturals in order in the ninth to hold on for a 7-6 win.
The eighth also featured a scary moment when Tulsa reliever Zach Willeman was struck in the head by a line drive. Willeman was able to leave the field under his own power.
Aaron Ochsenbein made the surprise start in an opener role for the Drillers and was followed by announced starter Andre Jackson, who pitched 4.1 innings in relief.
The Drillers continued to display their power early with a grand slam in the second inning. A double followed by two walks loaded the bases for Romer Cuadrado who drove a pitch over the right center wall, giving the Drillers a 4-0 lead.
Jackson took the mound with two outs in the second inning. On his first pitch, Dairon Blanco hit a solo home run to bring the score to 4-1.
Shaky pitching from the Naturals helped the Drillers add two runs I n the fifth. A walk and hit batter put two runners on for Jacob Amaya who singled to plate one run. Devin Mann walked to load the bases and Stevie Berman earned another walk to bring in the second run to give the Drillers a 6-1 lead.
The Naturals added one more run with a single from Blanco scoring Nick Pratto as Northwest pulled to within 6-2.
Devin Mann gave Tulsa another run in the seventh on his third homer of the season, raising the score to 7-2.
The Naturals battled back to make the game interesting by scoring four runs in the eighth. The rally began with two outs when Freddie Fermin singled to left. Next, Dennicher Carrasco struck Willeman with his liner and throwing error from Cuadrado allowed Fermin to score.
Guillermo Zuniga replaced Willeman and was greeted by a triple from Blanco that plated Carrasco. Travis Jones rounded out the scoring with a two-run homer bringing the Naturals to within 7-6.
Zuniga kept the stress to a minimum for the Drillers in the bottom of the ninth by setting the side down in order to complete the win.
*The grand slam from Cuadrado was the first for the Drillers this season.
*Ochsenbein pitched 1.2 scoreless innings in his first professional start.
*Donovan Casey had two more hits, raising his average to .315 for the season.
*The Wichita Wind Surge was a walk-off winner, keeping the Drillers tied for first in the Double-A Central North.
Tulsa at Northwest Arkansas, Friday, June 4, 7:05 PM at Arvest Ballpark. Tulsa RHP Michael Grove (0-2, 9.82 ERA) versus NWA RHP Jon Heasley (1-0, 1.78 ERA).