LITTLE ROCK, Ark.–Despite some late inning offense, the Tulsa Drillers fell to the Arkansas Travelers 8-6 on Friday night. Tulsa starting pitcher Justin DeFratus faced his former team in the Travs and had only allowed four earned runs in his previous four starts for the Drillers, but the Travs bats got the best of him.
The Travelers struck first in the bottom of the second after a couple of Drillers fielding mistakes. The inning began with back to back singles to put runners at the corners. The next batter, Joe Decarlo, grounded what looked to be a tailor-made double play, but Drew Jackson bobbled the ball and the first run of the game scored. Yonathan Mendoza doubled to left field and Braden Bishop reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Chuck Taylor continued his recent success at the plate by driving in all three runs on a bases-clearing double to extend the Travs lead to 4-0.
Both offenses stayed quiet until the bottom of the fourth inning. After retiring the first two batters, De Fratus gave up a two-out single to Eric Fillia, and then Joey Curletta homered to push the Arkansas lead to 6-0.
The Drillers struck back in the top of the fifth with a leadoff double by D.J. Peters. Jackson then doubled to bring the first Drillers run home. After Reks walked, Connor Joe drove in Jackson with a single to left to make it 6-2.
DeFratus answered back with an eight pitch 1-2-3 inning to give the Drillers a chance to keep the bats going. It would prove successful as with one out in the inning, Errol Robinson reached on a single to right. The next batter, Peters, walked after Robinson had stole his 13th base of the year. The Drillers kept applying the pressure to Arkansas starter Nathan Bannister by executing a double steal putting two runners in scoring position. Cael Brockmeyer then hit a line drive in the right-center gap for a sacrifice fly to plate Robinson and cut the lead in half to 6-3.
Arkansas struck back immediately in the bottom of the sixth. With the bases loaded, Curletta singled to center to score two and to push the lead to 8-3. The single ended DeFratus’s night, giving up a season high eight earned runs and tied his season high for hits allowed while striking out a season high of six.
The Drillers came up in the top of the ninth inning looking to start a late rally. Jackson got things started by getting hit by a pitch. The Drillers continued to add stress onto the Travelers bullpen after Reks singled to right to put two on with only one out. After Luke Raley struck out, Joe battled at the plate, seeing eleven pitches. Down to the Drillers last strike, Joe hit a three-run homer to left to make things interesting, but Festa would hold on to retire Smith on a bunt attempt to close out the Travelers win 8-6.
WHAT YOU MISSED
* Robinson stole his team-leading 13th and 14th bases of the season.
*It was a tough series for the Drillers with runners in scoring position as they went 3-15 tonight and a total of 7-43 for the series.
*Joe’s 9th inning blast was his 10th of the season and the team’s Texas League leading 79th.
*The Drillers loss gave the Travelers sole possession of first in the Texas League North Division standings as Springfield lost to Northwest Arkansas.
The Drillers will take on the Springfield Cardinals on Saturday night. First pitch at Hammons Field is scheduled for 6:10 p.m., and the probable starting pitchers are:
SPR Matt Pearce (0-0, 0.00 ERA)