Midland, TX - The Tulsa Drillers opened the Texas League Championship Series Tuesday night with a win in Midland, Texas. The Drillers used a big, four-run second inning to erase an early deficit and defeated the RockHounds 5-3 at Security Bank Ballpark to take game one of the best-of-five series.
Drew Jackson and Yusniel Diaz delivered run-scoring triples in the pivotal second inning. Starting pitcher Mitchell White worked the first five innings before a trio of Tulsa relievers closed out the series-opening victory. The RockHounds, an Oakland A's affiliate, are looking for a fourth straight Texas League title.
One of the key points in the victory came in the very first inning as Midland made things difficult for White. The first batter, Jorge Mateo, drew a walk and stole second base. After a groundout, Jermaine Curtis delivered an RBI single to score the game's first run and give the RockHounds the initial lead.
White did well to limit the damage as the Hounds threatened to make it a bigger inning. After the run-scoring hit, a walk to Viosergy Rosa and a base hit by former University of Oklahoma shortstop Sheldon Neuse loaded the bases with only one out. White came up big and recovered to retire J.P. Sportman on a soft liner and Tyler Ramirez on a strikeout to hold Midland to just the one run.
The Drillers quickly erased the deficit in the top of the second. Blake Gailen drew a leadoff walk, and Erick Mejia singled. Jackson brought both runners home with a one-out triple to give the Drillers the lead.
With two outs, Errol Robinson grounded a base hit into left field to score Jackson, and Diaz followed with the second triple of the inning, plating Robinson to put the Drillers in front 4-1.
White worked a scoreless second frame before the Hounds struck again in the third. With two outs and the bases empty, Neuse singled. Sportman followed with a long home run to left field to trim the Tulsa lead to 4-3.
The Drillers manufactured an insurance run in the sixth inning. Kyle Garlick led off with a double and moved to third when Gailen grounded out to the right side of the infield. Following a walk to Mejia, Jackson hit a grounder to third that the RockHounds tried to turn into an inning-ending double play, but the relay to first was late, allowing Garlick to score to make it 5-3.
After Shea Spitzbarth worked a 1-2-3 sixth, Midland made a bid to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. The Hounds put runners at first and second with two outs for Rosa. The left-handed slugger lined a pitch from Corey Copping into the gap in left-center field that appeared headed to the wall, but leftfielder Garlick reached up and made a running catch to retire Rosa and end the threat.
Drillers closer Daniel Corcino got the final out in the eighth inning before surviving a tense bottom of the ninth the win. A walk and a hit batter put runners at first and second with two outs, bringing Rosa to the plate. Corcino retired the Texas League RBI leader on a swinging strikeout to give the Drillers game one.
Tulsa out-hit Midland 11-8 in the opener with Robinson leading the way, going 3-4 from the leadoff spot. The Hounds were the top hitting team in the TL this season.
The opening victory is a good start to the series for the Drillers. In each of their three straight TL title runs, the RockHounds have won the first game of the championship series.
The Drillers will stay in west Texas for game two of the series Wednesday night. They will send Scott Barlow (6-3, 2.10 ERA) to the mound, while former Drillers pitcher Grant Holmes (11-12, 4.49 ERA) will pitch for the RockHounds. The 11 wins for Holmes were tied for second-most in the Texas League this season, while his 15 strikeouts led the league. Game two is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.
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