TULSA, OK – The Tulsa Drillers opened an important seven-game series with Wichita on Tuesday night at ONEOK Field, and they had a major league pitcher on the mound. Former Oklahoma State Cowboy and current Los Angeles Dodgers hurler Andrew Heaney made an injury rehabilitation start for the Drillers. Heaney
TULSA, OK – The Tulsa Drillers opened an important seven-game series with Wichita on Tuesday night at ONEOK Field, and they had a major league pitcher on the mound. Former Oklahoma State Cowboy and current Los Angeles Dodgers hurler Andrew Heaney made an injury rehabilitation start for the Drillers. Heaney was impressive, but he did not factor in the decision as the Drillers rallied late, breaking a tie with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning before holding on over the final two frames for a 4-3 win.
The result moved the Drillers to within ½ game of the first-place Wind Surge with only 12 games remaining in the first half of the Texas League season. Tulsa also leads the Coors Light Propellers Series between the two teams 6-3.
Heaney, who is recovering from shoulder inflammation, looked ready to return to the Dodgers and the big leagues. The Oklahoma City native allowed two hits in five shutout innings. He walked just one hitter and struck out nine while throwing 77 total pitches, 54 for strikes.
Heaney departed with Tulsa holding a 1-0 lead, thanks to Ryan Ward’s 14th home run of the season in the second inning.
The Wind Surge got their first run in the sixth inning when Matt Wallner homered off reliever Jose Hernandez.
The Drillers big seventh inning began with a leadoff single from Hunter Feduccia. However, the Tulsa catcher was still at first base with two outs when Leonel Valera extended the inning with an infield hit. After a walk to Devin Mann loaded the bases, James Outman broke the tie with a lined single into centerfield that plated two runners. Andy Pages followed with another hit that scored Mann and gave the Drillers a 4-1 lead.
They needed the three runs as the Wind Surge responded in the top of the eighth, thanks to a two-out, two-run homer from Edouard Julien that cut the Tulsa lead to 4-3.
But, Drillers reliever Guillermo Zuniga ensured that they would get no closer, needing only seven pitches to work a quick 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the win and further tighten the division race.
HIGHLIGHTS AND HAPPENINGS:
*Zuniga leads the Drillers’ bullpen with six saves. He is a perfect 6 for 6 in save opportunities.
*Valera finished 2-3 in the win to extend his hitting streak to nine straight games. He has a hit in every game he has played with the Drillers.
*The Drillers announced a roster change prior to the game. Shortstop Jacob Amaya, who has spent the last 1½ seasons with Tulsa, was transferred to Oklahoma City. Former major league infielder Abiatal Avelino was added to the roster to replace Amaya. Avelino, who was signed a free agent by the Dodgers, played briefly in the majors with the San Francisco Giants in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He started at third base in Tuesday’s win.
The Drillers and Wind Surge will play a doubleheader on Wednesday at ONEOK Field with the first game starting at 4:35 p.m. and game two beginning 30 minutes after its conclusion, but no earlier than 7:05 p.m.
The doubleheader is for the makeup of a game that was rained out in Wichita earlier this season. Because of that, the Wind Surge will be the home team in the second game.
The pitching matchups are scheduled to be:
Wichita – RHP Louie Varland (5-1, 3.24 ERA) & LHP Kody Funderburk (6-1, 2.17 ERA)
Tulsa – RHP Landon Knack (1-4, 4.13 ERA & LHP John Rooney (2-2, 5.40 ERA)