MIDLAND, TX – The Tulsa Drillers streak of three straight playoff appearances came to an end Saturday night in the next-to-last game of the 2021 regular season. The Drillers broke a two-game losing streak on Saturday with a 5-2 win over the Midland RockHounds, but it was not enough to
MIDLAND, TX – The Tulsa Drillers streak of three straight playoff appearances came to an end Saturday night in the next-to-last game of the 2021 regular season. The Drillers broke a two-game losing streak on Saturday with a 5-2 win over the Midland RockHounds, but it was not enough to keep them in the playoff hunt. Tulsa needed losses from Arkansas, Frisco and Northwest Arkansas to stay in playoff contention, but all three teams won, eliminating the Drillers from the playoff race.
In a must-win situation, the Drillers took an early lead in Saturday’s matchup with the RockHounds with runs in each of the first two innings. In the top of the first, the game’s leadoff batter, James Outman, doubled and moved to third on a ground out. Miguel Vargas followed with a fly ball to center, and Outman tagged up on the fly out. The throw home was in time to retire Outman, but Midland catcher Kyle McCann dropped the ball on the tag, giving the Drillers the game’s first run.
In the second, Devin Mann drew a leadoff walk and later scored on a two-out base hit by Outman, giving Tulsa a 2-0 lead.
The Drillers doubled their lead in the fifth inning. With two outs and Ryan Noda at first base after reaching safely on an error, Justin Yurchak delivered a run-scoring double. Hunter Feduccia followed with another double that plated Yurhack that upped the lead to 4-0.
Back-to-back doubles in the seventh from Noda and Vargas made it a five-run lead, but the RockHounds ended the shutout bid with their first run in the bottom half of the seventh. Edwin Diaz led off with a double and scored on a two-out hit by Max Schuemann.
Schuemann stole second base and scored on a base hit by Chase Calabuig to trim Tulsa’s lead to 5-2.
It would be as close as the RockHounds would get as the Tulsa bullpen kept the RockHounds scoreless over the final two innings.
*Even though the Drillers are eliminated from the postseason, the final games of the regular season on Sunday will be make for an exciting end to the regular season with three teams still in playoff contention. Arkansas, Frisco and Northwest Arkansas are all in the playoff hunt. Frisco controls its own destiny and will face Wichita in the playoffs with a win over Amarillo on Sunday. If the RoughRiders lose and Arkansas wins, the Travelers will get the postseason slot. If the RoughRiders and Travelers both lose and Northwest Arkansas wins, the Naturals will be in the playoffs. If all three teams lose, Frisco will get the postseason spot and face the Wind Surge for the Double-A Central title.
*Pitcher Landon Knack made his sixth start on the mound for the Drillers since his promotion from Great Lakes, and he was outstanding. Knack allowed only two hits in four shutout innings while walking just one batter and striking out five.
*Justin Hagenman was credited with the win after following Knack to the mound and giving up just one run on three hits 2.1 relief innings. The victory improved his record to 7-4, tying him with Guillermo Zuniga for the most wins on the staff.
*Nick Robertson got the final four outs in the game to record his fourth save of the season.
*Four Tulsa batters had two hits in the game. The group included Outman, Vargas, Feduccia and Yurchak.
*Vargas took a big step towards wrapping up the Double-A Central batting title with his two hits. He will enter the final game with a .319 batting average while Wichita’s Roy Morales, who is second to Vargas, will enter Sunday’s finale with a .306 average.
*This will mark the first season since 2016 that the Drillers have not qualified for the playoffs. It is the first time that manager Scott Hennessey has not reached the postseason.
The Drillers will play their final game of the season Sunday afternoon with the sixth game of their series with the RockHounds. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Midland’s Momentum Bank Ballpark. The pitching matchup will feature Tulsa RHP Bobby Miller (0-0, 6.35 ERA), who will be making his third start for the Drillers, and Midland RHP Matt Milburn (3-4, 4.81 ERA).