LITTLE ROCK, Ark.– The Tulsa Drillers ended a three-game skid with some late inning offense in a 6-4 victory on Thursday night against the Arkansas Travelers. Drillers starting pitcher Mitchell White went five innings, giving up his only run in the first as he threw his second consecutive strong outing for the Drillers.
The Travelers answered back quickly with Braden Bishop leading off the bottom of the first with a double to centerfield to extend his hitting streak to twelve games. He was immediately erased on a fielders choice after a heads up play by Drew Jackson caught Bishop in between second and third on a Beau Amaralground ball. Joey Curletta then added an RBI single to left to plate Amaral to even things up at 1-1.
In the bottom of the 5th after two quick outs to start the inning, Bishop continued his hot hitting with his 2nd hit of the game and was followed by a walk to Amaral. A deep fly ball was brought in by a spectacular tumbling catch by center fielder D.J. Peters to keep the game tied.
Both starters put up zeros for the rest of their outings as White went five innings, giving up five hits and two walks while striking out three. Former Driller Chase De Jong also kept the game tied going six innings for the Travs, allowing five hits and one walk while recording four strikeouts.
Things were quiet until the eighth when the Drillers bats sparked a four-run inning to break the game’s tie. Conner Joe hit a single up the middle that was followed by a Will Smith walk to put runners at first and second with only one out. Keibert Ruiz gave the Drillers the lead with a single to right field to plate a run. The Drillers were not satisfied with their lead as the next batter, Peters, hit a three-run homer to give the Drillers a 5-1 lead.
After recording an out, Tulsa reliever Ariel Hernandez ran into some trouble in the bottom of the eighth by giving up two walks. Shea Spitzbarth entered the game and retired the first batter he faced on a fly out that moved Amaral to third. Joe DeCarlo singled to left plating Amaral for the second time and cutting the Tulsa lead to 5-2. The next batter, former Driller Adam Law, walked to load the bases with two outs. Spitzbarth held on striking out Joseph Odom to minimize the Traveler damage to only one run.
With two outs in the top of the ninth the Drillers extended their lead with an insurance run after a Smith single was followed up by a Ruiz RBI double making the Tulsa lead 6-2.
Corey Copping came on for the bottom of the ninth looking to close out the Travelers. The leadoff single byYonathan Mendoza, that extended his hitting streak to eight games, was followed by a walk to Bishop to put two on with no outs to start the ninth. With one out Eric Fillia plated one with an RBI single to right field, moving Bishop to third and setting up Curletta’s sacrifice fly and his second RBI of the game. The game got more interesting with a two out balk by Copping to move Fillia into scoring position, but he held on to get Dario Pizzano to pop out to Jackson to end the comeback attempt and to close out a 6-4 Driller victory.
WHAT YOU MISSED
*Peters hit his team-leading 11th HR in the eighth but his first since May 27th.
*Luke Raley is now 6-7 with a HR against De Jong.
*In De Jong’s previous two matchups against the Drillers he faced Dennis Santana and Caleb Furgeson who have both gone on to make their MLB debuts for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
*Errol Robinson stole his team leading 12th bag of the year.
*The Drillers victory forced a tie for first in the Texas League North Division standings between the Travelers and the Springfield Cardinals, and put the Drillers only three games back.
The Drillers will take on the Travelers again on Friday night. First pitch at Dickey-Stephens Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., and the probable starting pitchers are:
TUL Justin De Fratus (2-1, 1.61 ERA)
ARK Nathan Bannister (3-4, 5.98 ERA)