The Tulsa Drillers tough road trip to central and south Texas got even tougher Monday night. Trying to end a five-game losing streak, the Drillers carried a one-run lead into the ninth inning at Corpus Christi. But a one-out error by shortstop Josh Rutledge was followed on the very next pitch by a game-winning, walk-off home run by Texas League All-Star Jonathan Villar that gave the Hooks a dramatic 5-4 victory.
Villar's heroics sent the Drillers to their sixth straight loss, matching a season high. It dropped their second-half record to 2-7.
The homer ended the Drillers hopes of producing their own come-from-behind victory. Twice in the game they overcame deficits before taking their first lead in the top of the seventh.
The Hooks struck in the bottom of the first inning with a pair of unearned runs to take an early lead. Tulsa starting pitcher Dan Houston retired the first two batters in the first, and appeared to be out of the inning when Andrew Simunic hit a groundball to Nolan Arenado, but the third baseman threw wildly into the stands to extend the inning. Jonathan Singleton followed with his 12th home run of the season to put the Hooks in front 2-0.
The Drillers got one of the runs back in the second as Corey Dickerson singled, stole second and scored on a two-out hit from catcher Lars Davis.
Tulsa opened the fourth with four straight singles, but could only produce one run that tied the score at 2-2. Ben Paulsen led off with a hit and moved to third on another hit by Dickerson, who was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. After Paulsen scored on a base hit by Kent Matthes, Davis produced the fourth straight single to put runners at first and second, but Mike Mitchell lined out and Houston struck out to end the threat.
Corpus Christi retook the lead in the bottom of the fourth as Singleton doubled and scored on another double by Austin Wates, but again the Drillers responded, and it came courtesy of Rutledge. The shortstop led off the top of the fifth with his team-leading 12th homer of the year to tie the score at 3-3.
It remained that way until the seventh. With bases empty, Tulsa's Warren Schaeffer lined a one-out double into left field. After Rutledge struck out, Angelys Nina provided a two-out single into centerfield that scored Schaeffer with the go-ahead run.
A pair of scoreless innings from relievers Cory Riordan and Will Harris kept the lead in place until the bottom of the ninth.
Woods has been near perfect this season, and he retired the first batter in the ninth before Rutledge was unable to handle a line drive off the bat of Jair Fernandez. The error by the shortstop allowed Fernandez to reach first, setting the stage for Villar, who is considered to be one of the top prospects in the Houston Astros farm system. The Hooks' shortstop lifted a towering, opposite-field fly that carried with the wind and landed well beyond the left field fence for the game-winning home run.
The homer was only the third earned run allowed by Woods this season. The defeat dropped his record to 3-2.
It also kept Houston from collecting his eighth win of the year. The right-hander allowed only six hits and one walk in six innings while striking out seven. Only one of the three runs he allowed was earned as the Drillers, the Texas League's top fielding club, committed an uncharacteristic three errors in the game.
Tulsa will look to snap its skid in game two with the Hooks Tuesday night at 7:05PM. Recent addition Brandon Hynick will make his first start for the Drillers this season against Texas League All-Star Jarred Cosart (4-4, 3.65 ERA) for Corpus Christi. Hynick, who is a combined 2-4 with Colorado Springs and Modesto this season, won 10 games while with the Drillers in the 2008 season.