Drillers Even Series In Northwest Arkansas
Entering Friday's matchup at Northwest Arkansas, Kyle Parker and Kiel Roling had been the primary sources of power for the Tulsa Drillers this season, accounting for nearly half of the club's home runs. The duo continued their impressive run at Arvest Ballpark. Parker belted a solo home run in the second inning to open the scoring for the Drillers, and Roling added a long, two-run shot in the eighth that erased a Naturals lead. The result was a 5-4 win for Tulsa that improved its record to .500 at 7-7.
Parker's second-inning homer was his fourth of the year and his third in the past four games.
Roling's blast was also his fourth this season and his second in as many nights. While not as dramatic as Parker's walk-off winner earlier in the week, it did produce a Drillers victory.
The first baseman's home run overturned a Naturals lead that had been in place since the first inning. As it did the previous night, Northwest Arkansas jumped to an early lead by scoring in the first inning. After the Drillers were set down in order in the top of the first, Brett Eibner led off the bottom of the inning with a double against Tulsa starting pitcher Tim Gustafson. Eibner moved to third on a base hit by Orlando Calixte, then scored on a wild pitch by Gustafson. Following a sacrifice bunt, Calixte came home to make it 2-0 on a ground ball off the bat of Mitch Canham that Roling misplayed for an error.
Parker got one of the runs back for the Drillers in the top of the second with his opposite field homer that cut the deficit to 2-1.
Northwest reclaimed its two-run lead in the bottom half of the second without the benefit of a hit. Angel Franco drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on a pair of groundouts and scored on another wild pitch from Gustafson.
The two teams continued to trade runs in the middle innings. Tulsa got back to within one run in the fourth when Roling singled and eventually came home on a base hit by catcher Dustin Garneau.
The Naturals restored their two-run lead at 4-2 in the sixth. Canham drew a one-out walk from reliever Parker Frazier, raced to third on a base hit by Yem Prades and scored on a ground out by Manny Pina.
Garneau again got the Drillers to within one run with a solo homer in the seventh. It was Garneau's first home run of the year and his third hit of the game. The catcher entered the game hitting .050 with only one hit on the season.
Tulsa finally caught and passed the Naturals in the eighth, thanks to Roling. Kent Matthes and Henry Wrigley opened the inning with consecutive singles off reliever Sam Runion, but Wrigley was thrown out at second trying to advance on an overthrow of first.
With Matthes at third, Roling came to the plate and belted a full-count pitch from Runion high over the left field wall. The drive landed on the concourse walkway above the outfield berm and gave the Drillers a 5-4 lead.
Mike Solbach worked a scoreless eighth inning before turning the ninth over to Steven Hensley. After retiring the first two batters, Hensley issued a two-out walk before striking out Eibner to end the game and collect his first save.
Frazier (1-0) picked up his first win of the season. The Tulsa native allowed two hits and one run in three relief innings.
The Naturals were limited to only four hits in the game.
Northwest Arkansas starter Yordano Ventura, a highly ranked prospect in the Kansas City Royals system, surrendered four hits and two runs in four innings.
The Drillers and Naturals will play the third game of their four-game series Saturday night at Arvest Ballpark. Tyler Matzek (0-0, 2.08 ERA) will take the mound for Tulsa while Northwest Arkansas is undecided on its starter. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05PM.