Drillers Use New Rule to Get Win in Home Opener

New extra-innings rule utilized for the first time

Former Los Angeles Dodgers great Steve Yeager threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the 2018 home opener. (Rich Crimi)

By Tulsa Drillers | April 13, 2018 12:28 AM

The Tulsa Drillers were on the winning side of history in their 2018 home opener at ONEOK Field Thursday night. Tied through nine innings, Tulsa and Frisco used the new extra-innings rule adopted this season in Minor League Baseball to determine a winner, and it was the Drillers who came out victorious. Tulsa broke a deadlock with a run in the bottom of the 11th inning and defeated the RoughRiders 4-3 at ONEOK Field.


The new rule in MiLB states that each team begins every extra inning with a runner placed at second base. Despite the advantageous setup, neither team could score in the tenth frame, and the RoughRiders failed again in the eleventh after having runners at the corners with no outs when a suicide squeeze attempt backfired.


The Drillers finally pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the eleventh. With the placed runner at second base, Connor Joe drew a leadoff walk. Following a sacrifice bunt, Errol Robinson struck out. Frisco then intentionally walked Luke Raley to load the bases, but the strategy failed when D.J. Peters worked a walk to force home the winning run.


The victory improved Tulsa's record to 4-3 on the young season.


After failing to see a game advance to extra innings during the first week of the Texas League season, the Drillers and RoughRiders game was one two to advance to extra frames on Thursday. The Drillers joined San Antonio as the first TL teams to record victories in the new format.


Early in Thursday's opener, it appeared extra innings would not be necessary as both teams produced runs before many in the large crowd had gotten to their seats. With one out in the top of the first inning, Frisco's Scott Heineman legged out a double. One out later, Juremi Profar brought him home with a base hit that opened the game's scoring.


The Drillers erased the early deficit, courtesy of Kyle Garlick in the bottom half of the first. After Peters doubled, Garlick belted his second homer of the season into the Busch Terrace beyond the left-center field fence to put Tulsa in front 2-1.


The lead held until the fifth inning when an error and a walk helped the RoughRiders load the bases with one out. A pair of passed balls charged to Drillers catcher Keibert Ruiz allowed Frisco to plate two runs and take a 3-2 lead.


The Drillers tied the score in the bottom of the seventh and set the stage for the extra innings. Drew Jackson drew a leadoff walk, stole second and advanced to third when the catcher's throw sailed into centerfield. Jackson came home with the tying run on a ground out Luke Raley.



*Former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager threw out the first ceremonial pitch of the season. Yeager played 14 years in Los Angeles and was named the MVP of the 1981 World Series when the Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees.

*Tulsa starting pitcher Caleb Ferguson bounced back from a tough outing in his first appearance of the season, when he failed to last through the first inning after reaching a pitch limit. The lefthander allowed five hits to the RoughRiders while striking out six in 4.2 innings. Ferguson was charged with three runs, but only one was earned because of the two passed balls in the fifth.


*Former Oral Roberts University catcher Alex Trevino made the start behind the plate for the RoughRiders and finished with one hit, an eighth-inning double, in five plate appearances.


*Shea Spitzbarth was outstanding in relief of Ferguson. Spitzbarth allowed only one hit in 2.1 innings of work, lowering his season ERA to 1.42.


*Corey Copping and Josh Sborz also worked two scoreless relief innings each. Sborz picked up the win, allowing only one Frisco hit over the final two frames.


*The paid crowd of 8,396 was the third-largest opening night crowd in the history of ONEOK Field. In addition, the temperature at the start of the game was 81 degrees, matching the 2011 opener for the warmest in stadium history.


*The walk-off RBI capped a big night for Peters. The centerfielder finished with three hits and one run scored.




The two teams will continue their series Friday night at ONEOK Field when it will be the first FOX23 Friday Night Fireworks game of the year. Starting time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with the following pitching matchup:


            Frisco   Wes Benjamin (0-1, 4.50 ERA)

            Tulsa    Justin De Fratus (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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