Rare Late Rally Gives Drillers Split

It took something they had not accomplished all year, but the Tulsa Drillers avoided a doubleheader sweep Tuesday night. With a 0-27 record when trailing going into the last inning of games this season, the Drillers rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game and then scored two more in the bottom of the eighth to claim a 5-4 extra-inning win over Northwest Arkansas at ONEOK Field.

The Naturals had won the game one 4-2.

In game two, the Naturals jumped to a quick lead thanks to Clint Robinson’s two-run homer off Greg Reynolds in the top of the first inning. They upped the margin to 3-0 with an unearned run in the fourth.

Northwest Arkansas starting pitcher Eduardo Paulino held the Drillers without a hit until Bronson Sardinha bounced a single into center with one out in the bottom of the fourth. After stealing second base, Sardinha come home on a base hit by Daniel Mayora.

Following a similar script in the fifth, Anthony Jackson walked and moved into scoring position by swiping second. He then came all the way home on Charlie Blackmon’s infield single down the first base line to pull the Drillers to within 3-2.

Tulsa battled to get the game tied with its run in the bottom of the seventh. Matt Repec drew a leadoff walk, but reliever Patrick Keating struck out the next two hitters. With two outs, pinch-runner Eider Torres stole second base to move into scoring position. He came home to tie the game at 3-3 when Blackmon singled into right field.

Mike Moustakas, the top hitting prospect in the Kansas City Royals’ farm system, appeared to have ensured the Naturals third doubleheader sweep of the week when he belted a two-out, solo home run in the top of the eighth inning. The drive stayed just inside the right field foul pole and was the 15th homer of the year for the Texas League’s top hitter.

But, the homer just set the stage for Tulsa’s first last-inning comeback of the year. The rally began with a one-out single by Lars Davis. After Jason Van Kooten reached on an error by Moustakas, a ground out moved the Naturals to within one out of a win, but Warren Schaeffer singled home Davis to tie the game at 4-4. A walk to Anthony Jackson loaded the bases, and Blackmon drew another walk to force Van Kooten home with the winning run.

The opener was tied at 1-1 until the Naturals broke the deadlock with a 3-run sixth inning. The rally began with two outs and the bases empty when Moustakas singled off Bruce Billings. Craig Robinson drew a walk and Nick Van Stratten put Northwest in front with a run-scoring single. Following another walk to Anthony Seratelli, Tim Smith put the Naturals in front 4-1 with a two-run base hit.

Blackmon hit a solo home run, his second of the year, in the bottom of the sixth to account for the final score.

Billings, who saw his 38-inning scoreless streak end in his last start, surrendered 7 hits and 4 runs in 5 2/3 innings. The loss dropped his record to 5-4.

Brandon Sisk picked up the win in relief of Naturals’ starter Mike Montgomery. Sisk allowed 1 run in 3 1/3 innings. Montgomery, making his first start since returning from the disabled list, was on a pitch limit and surrendered only 2 hits and 1 run in 3 2/3 innings.

Scott Beerer ended a 0-14 slump with two hits in the first game for the Drillers.

Reynolds, whose major league injury rehabilitation assignment had ended, was transferred to Tulsa’s official roster earlier in the day. He pitched the first two innings of the nightcap, allowing three hits and two runs.

Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas will conclude their four-game series Wednesday afternoon at ONEOK Field. Keith Weiser (4-4, 2.83 ERA) will pitch the finale for the Drillers against Aaron Crow (3-5, 5.66 ERA) of the Naturals with first pitch scheduled for 12:05PM.

Updated 06-16-2010

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