The 20-year title drought for the Tulsa Drillers is over. The Drillers completed a three-game sweep of the Texas League Championship Series Friday night with a 5-2 win over San Antonio. The victory gave Tulsa its first Texas League Championship since 1998 and its first since becoming a Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate just four years ago.
It was the fourth TL title for the Drillers franchise and the ninth overall for the city of Tulsa.
Friday’s Game 3 started perfectly for the Drillers as Gavin Lux hit the first pitch of the game over the right field fence for a home run that gave the Drillers a 1-0 lead. It would be a lead they would not surrender.
Tulsa doubled its lead in the second inning when Cael Brockmeyer and Mike Ahmed opened the inning with back-to-back doubles that upped the margin to 2-0.
The Missions got on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the second when Hudson Potts doubled and scored on a two-out single from Michael Gettys.
The Drillers had an immediate response in the top of the third. With two outs and the bases empty, Jacob Scavuzzo reached safely when shortstop Owen Miller misplayed his sharp grounder. Cael Brockmeyer followed with a base hit to centerfield, and when Gettys let the ball roll under his glove for an error, Scavuzzo raced home with a run that gave Tulsa a 3-1 lead.
It remained a two-run lead until San Antonio added a second run in the bottom of the fifth. Second baseman Peter Van Gansen led off with his first post-season homer to trim the Tulsa lead to 2-1.
Any hopes of a comeback for the Missions ended in the seventh inning. With two outs and the bases empty, D.J. Peters belted his first home run of the championship series to up the Tulsa lead to a pair of runs. On the next pitch, Scavuzzo made it back-to-back clouts when he deposited a pitch over the left field wall to increase the Drillers lead to 5-2.
Tulsa starting pitcher Dustin May, rated as the top pitching prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system by MiLB.com, was outstanding in the title clinching game. The 21-year-old right-hander allowed only two runs in the first five innings while registering three strikeouts.
Shea Spitzbarth followed May to the hill and retired all six batters he faced in two perfect innings of work.
Layne Somsen worked around a one-out single to work a scoreless eighth inning, but things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth. Josh Naylor and Kyle Overstreet opened the final inning with consecutive singles. But Somsen would make sure there would be no comeback. Austin Allen flied out before Potts grounded into a gamed-ending double play that wrapped up Tulsa’s first title in 20 years.
WHAT YOU MISSED
*The Drillers erased the memory of last season’s TLCS with the title-clinching victory. Last year, Tulsa took a 2 games to 0 lead in the final series before Midland ran off three straight victories to claim its fourth straight league title.
*The Tulsa bullpen worked 13 innings in the championship series and did not allow a run.
*The victory capped an impressive run for Tulsa manager Scott Hennessey. Since taking over as the Drillers manager on July 24, 2017, Hennessey has led the Drillers to an overall record of 112-85 (.569) and two appearance in the Texas League Championship Series.
*Tulsa totaled 10 hits in the title-clinching win, including three from Brockmeyer and two from Lux.
*The game marked the final-ever meeting between the Drillers and Missions. San Antonio, which was an original city in the first year of the Texas League in 1888, will move to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League next season. The Double-A Texas League team will move to Amarillo, Texas for the 2019 season.
Tulsa will open the 2019 season as the Texas League Champions on Thursday, April 4 when it hosts Arkansas at ONEOK Field and the Texas League.