TULSA - The first-half division title hopes of the Tulsa Drillers were severely damaged Friday night after being swept in a doubleheader at ONEOK Field by first-place Arkansas. The Travelers claimed an emphatic 10-1 win in the opener, before rallying for an 8-5 win in extra innings in the second game. The two losses dropped the second place Drillers 6.5 games behind the Travs with only 9 games remaining in the first half.
The star of the night for Arkansas was former Bishop Kelley High School and Oklahoma State University product Donnie Walton. Walton finished with seven hits in eight at-bats over the two games.
The two teams have now played six extra-innings games this season, and the Travs have won all six.
The Travelers made easy work of the Drillers in game one, scoring a combined nine runs in the third and fourth innings.
Walton paced a 13-hit attack for the Travs, going a perfect 3-3, including a homer, from the leadoff spot. Zach Zammarelli added another homer and 3 runs batted in.
Tulsa starting pitcher Dustin May suffered the loss in his shortest outing of the year, allowing 8 hits and 6 runs (3 ER) in only 2.2 innings. It continued a tough stretch for the right-hander who is 0-4 with a 6.49 ERA in his last 7 starts.
In the second game, Arkansas quickly jumped in front with a two-run first inning against Tulsa starter Ben Holmes. Walton, Evan White and Kyle Lewis opened the game with three straight singles to load the bases. Dom Thompson-Williams plated Walton with a sacrifice fly, and Logan Taylor brought White home for the second run with the fourth hit of the inning.
It remained 2-0 until Tulsa scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score. Singles from Cody Thomas and Keibert Ruiz gave the Drillers runners at the corners with two outs. Jared Walker lined a single that fell just in front of right fielder Aaron Knapp's glove, scoring Thomas. Josh Thole evened the score when he grounded a base hit through the left side that plated Ruiz.
The score remained tied as the two teams traded solo homers in the fifth. With one out in the top half of the inning, White lined a pitch from Holmes just inside the left field foul pole and into the Busch Terrace to put the Travelers back in front 3-2.
Zach McKinstry answered for the Drillers with a drive over the left-center field wall in the bottom half of the fifth. It was the seventh home run of the season for McKinstry, matching a career high.
Ruiz led off the bottom of the sixth with another base hit, setting the stage for Santana. The Tulsa third baseman lined his double off the base of the fence in right-center field, scoring Ruiz all the way from first with the go-ahead run.
As they have many times this season, the Travelers had an answer for the Drillers. After retiring the first batter of the inning, reliever Marshall Kasowski issued a walk, followed by a base hit from Walton. Another hit from White loaded the bases before a sacrifice fly by Thompson-Williams tied the game again, sending it to extra innings.
Neither team scored in the eighth inning before the Travs plated four runs in the ninth to claim the win and the sweep.
WHAT YOU MISSED
*Catcher Josh Thole was added to the Drillers roster on Friday, returning from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Catcher Jordan Procyshen was returned to Class-A Rancho Cucamonga to make room for Thole.
*The Drillers wore special 918 Jerseys and will continue to wear them through the weekend. The jerseys are currently being auctioned online with proceeds benefiting those affected by the recent tornadoes and floods that struck the Tulsa area.
*After the two-run first inning in game two, Holmes settled in and allowed just three hits and one run over the next five innings. He was in line for the win until the Travs plated the tying run against Kasowski in the seventh.
*Tulsa has now lost 16 of 24 games with Arkansas this season.
UP NEXT: Arkansas at Tulsa, Saturday, June 8, 7:05 PM at ONEOK Field. LHP Ricardo Sanchez (4-4, 3.77 ERA) vs. RHP J.D. Martin (2-5, 5.46 ERA).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.