SPRINGDALE, AR - One night after suffering a walk-off loss at Northwest Arkansas, the Tulsa Drillers bounced back with a win Saturday at Arvest Ballpark. The Drillers did not have a base runner through the first four innings and were held without a run for the first five, but they overturned a one-run deficit by scoring four times in the top of the sixth inning. They added two more runs run in the seventh and eventually recorded a 6-2 win over the Naturals.
With the victory, the Drillers took over sole possession of first place in the North Division standings of the Texas League. Arkansas was beaten by Springfield, leaving Tulsa one game in front of the Travelers with just 15 games remaining in the regular season. It marks the first time this season that the Drillers have occupied first place by themselves.
First place did not seem a likely possibility through the first half of Saturday's matchup. Gabriel Cancel staked Naturals starting pitcher Scott Blewett to an early 1-0 lead with a run-scoring double in the bottom of the first inning, and Blewett seemed determined to make it hold. The right-hander set down the first 12 Tulsa batters in order before Chris Parmelee reached on an infield single leading off the fifth. Blewett retired the next three batters, including two on strikeouts, to keep the one-run lead intact.
The Drillers bats finally came to life with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the sixth. Drew Avans singled, and Omar Estevez doubled him home to tie the score. After Cody Thomas walked, Parmelee loaded the bases with another infield single. Donovan Casey brought everyone home with a bases-clearing double that catapulted the Drillers into a 4-1 lead and ended Blewett's night.
Tulsa added to its lead in the seventh. Errol Robinson and Avans both singled and scored on a two-run double from Estevez that upped the margin to 6-1.
Starting pitcher Markus Solbach took advantage of the late, offensive uprising to pick up the win and improve his record to a perfect 3-0. After surrendering the first-inning run, Solbach blanked the Naturals over the next five. He allowed four hits and issued one walk while striking out five.
The Naturals added an unearned run off reliever Stetson Allie in the bottom of the seventh, but Allie and Ryan Moseley combined to protect the lead and close out the Tulsa win.
WHAT YOU MISSED
*Solbach was charged with just one run in his six-inning stint, lowering his ERA to 1.03.
*Moseley retired all six batters he faced and recorded four strikeouts.
*Estevez finished with two hits and three runs batted in. Batting in the leadoff spot, Avans had three hits and two runs scored.
*Tulsa totaled 11 hits in the win while Northwest Arkansas was limited to just 5.
*The Drillers never occupied first place during the first half of the season, but they had been in a tie for the top spot on eight occasions during the second half before finally taking sole possession of first with Saturday's victory in the 124th game of the year.
UP NEXT: Tulsa at Northwest Arkansas, Sunday, August 18, at 2:05 PM at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, AR. RHP Parker Curry (4-5, 3.08 ERA) versus RHP Jackson Kowar (2-6, 3.28 ERA).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.