Drillers set to close out first half of Texas League season

The Tulsa Drillers completed a full slate of games over the past week as they prepare to close out the first half of the 2010 Texas League season. The week included rain, two double headers, more rain, the fourth straight Friday night sellout, and a league-leading consecutive game hitting streak. 


Monday: Heavy rain that fell in the morning washed out the Drillers opener with the Naturals. The game was rescheduled as part of a double header for Tuesday.

Tuesday: Tulsa split their double header with Northwest Arkansas, dropping the seven-inning game one 4-2 before coming from behind to win the second game 5-4 in eight innings. With the first game tied at 1-1, the Naturals broke out with a three-run sixth inning. Nick Van Stratten drove in one run and Tim Smith followed with a two-run base hit to put the Naturals in the drivers seat.

Charles Blackmon added a solo homerun for the Drillers in the bottom of the sixth to pull within two, but it would be as close as they could get. Tulsa ace Bruce Billings picked up the loss after allowing all four runs on seven hits while striking out five through five and two-thirds innings of work.

Entering the second game Tulsa was 0-27 when trailing while entering the final inning. This time, the Drillers managed to work themselves back into the game. Trailing 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Eider Torres made it home safely on a single by Blackmon to tie the game.

Mike Moustakas reclaimed the lead for the Naturals when he blasted a two-out solo homer in the top of the eighth. With one out in the bottom half of the inning, Lars Davis reached base on a single before scoring on a single by Warren Schaeffer to tie the game once again. With Jason Van Kooten and Schaeffer on base, Anthony Jackson walked to load the bases with two outs before Blackmon drew another walk to force Van Kooten home for the win.

Wednesday: No one was happier to see the rain than the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Wednesday night at ONEOK Field. With Tulsa leading 8-2 in the top of the seventh, torrential rains halted the game and forced it to be called official after six innings. Keith Weiser picked up the win, going the distance allowing seven hits and two runs while striking out six.

The Naturals struck first in the top of the third inning when Derrick Robinson tripled to drive in Smith from first base. The lead would not hold though as the Drillers answered quickly with five runs of their own. Aaron Crow retired the first two Tulsa batters before Blackmon singled to right field to start Tulsa’s rally.

Torres struck out on a wild pitch, but managed to advance to first base while Blackmon safely moved to second. Bronson Sardinha followed with a walk to load the bases for Tulsa. Slugger Ryan Harvey emptied the bases when he doubled to left field giving the Drillers a 3-1 lead. 

Daniel Mayora then singled to drive in Harvey and later scored on another wild pitch to expand Tulsa’s lead to four runs. The Drillers went on to add two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth before the rains hit. Blackmon had an excellent outing, picking up three hits in four at bats.

Thursday: With two wins over the division leading Naturals and rain out of the way, the Drillers moved on to face the Arkansas Travelers on Thursday and came away with their third straight win. Cory Riordan was impressive on the mound as he scattered six hits through six and two-thirds innings while striking out eight, including the first five batters he faced as he led Tulsa to the 3-1 win. Van Kooten and Scott Beerer provided the only run support Riordan would need, as each had round-trippers in the contest.

Jackson doubled in the bottom of the fifth and would score on Van Kooten’s shot to left field that broke the scoreless tie. Beerer made it 3-0 when he smashed his first homer of the season in the top of the sixth inning. The only Arkansas run came in the top of the seventh, when with the bases loaded, reliever Scott Rice balked on the first pitch to send home Roberto Lopez.

Friday: Ryan Brasier, who threw a nine-inning no hitter against Tulsa on April 29, put together another solid outing, allowing three hits and two runs through seven innings as the Travelers defeated the Drillers 3-2 before a sellout crowd of 8,579. Arkansas got on the scoreboard first when Lopez drove in Kevin Ramos on a line drive to left field that was followed by an RBI sacrifice by Jeremy Moore. Andrew Romine provided what would be the game-winning hit in the top of the fourth, when he tripled to right field to drive in Efren Navarro.

Tulsa pulled back within one after posting one run each in the fourth and fifth innings. Blackmon, who extended his current hitting streak to 11 straight games, scored in the fourth on a sacrifice by Mayora and Van Kooten would score on a fifth-inning sacrifice by Jackson but they would not be able to knot the score. Christian Friedrich dropped to 0-5 on the season, despite a solid outing in which he allowed five hits and three runs while striking out four through seven innings of work.

Saturday: The day looked very similar to Tuesday for the Drillers; another double header, another split. Tulsa dropped the opener 4-2, before claiming a 7-5 win in the nightcap. 

Abel Nieves was the hero for Arkansas in the first game, as he belted two homeruns and Travs’ pitcher Michael Anton took care of the Drillers’ lineup. Nieves broke a scoreless tie in the top of the second when he hit a two-run homer to center field. He later added a solo shot in the fourth inning before Julio Perez added a solo shot In the sixth to extend the Travelers lead to 4-0.

The Drillers attempted to put together a ninth inning rally, scoring two runs before ultimately coming up short. An RBI double by Schaeffer put Tulsa on the board before a wild pitch allowed Kiel Roling to score and cut the deficit to two-runs. With the tying run at the plate, Arkansas reliever Jordan Walden retired Van Kooten and Jackson to secure the win.

Tulsa spotted Arkansas four runs in the second half of the twin-bill before battling back to pull off the two-run victory. Down 4-0, the Drillers roared back with a three-run second inning to pull within one. Arkansas added another run in the fourth on an RBI triple by Romine. Tulsa continued to chip away at the Arkansas lead, posting single-runs in the fifth and seventh innings to tie it up.

The bottom of the eighth would prove to be the turning point for the Drillers. Van Kooten plated Matt Repec on a line drive to center field before Blackmon drove him in on a single to right field. Rice picked up his second win of the season in relief, as he allowed no hits or runs in just over an inning of work.

Sunday: The Drillers closed out their nine-game homestand, suffering a 7-2 loss to the Travelers. The two squads were deadlocked at 1-1 in the bottom of the second when Tulsa’s Wilin Rosario singled and went on to score on a sacrifice fly by Van Kooten to give the Drillers the lead. 

The lead held until the sixth inning when Arkansas tied then went on to add five more runs through the remaining three innings to secure the win. Billings pitched the first six innings, allowing two runs on nine hits while striking out five. Chris Malone was saddled with the loss, as he allowed two hits and two runs through two innings, including an eighth-inning homer from Brian Walker.


A long road now awaits the Drillers, as they will not return home until July. They will kick off a four-game series with Northwest Arkansas Monday night at Arvest Ballpark before finishing the week with another four-game set at Springfield. Tulsa returns home for a six-game homestand to open the second half of the Texas League season on July 1.


Texas League North: Northwest Arkansas (40-28), Springfield (36-32), Tulsa (29-38), Arkansas (26-42).

Texas League South: Frisco (37-30), Corpus Christi (35-33), Midland (34-34), San Antonio (34-34).


Average: Daniel Mayora (.287) Hits: Daniel Mayora (58) Doubles: Daniel Mayora (18) Triples: Jason Van Kooten, Anthony Jackson, Daniel Mayora (3) Homeruns: Ryan Harvey, Wilin Rosario (8) RBI: Ryan Harvey (30).


Wins: Bruce Billings, Keith Weiser (5) ERA: Scott Rice (1.12) Saves: Craig Baker, Stuart Pomeranz (5) Strikeouts: Cory Riordan (60).


Six Drillers were recently named the 2010 Texas League North Division All-Star Team. Pitchers Bruce Billings, Scott Rice and Keith Weiser along infielder Daniel Mayora and catcher Wilin Rosario will see action during the 2010 Texas League All-Star Game that will be played at Midland’s Citibank Ballpark on June 30. Jeff Kindel was also selected, but will miss the game due to an elbow injury.

Tickets are available for all upcoming Drillers games  are available at the ONEOK Field box office, by calling 744-5901 or online at Tulsa drillers.com.