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Drillers Come up Empty in Doubleheader with Naturals

Third baseman Leonel Valera was the only Tulsa player with a hit in each of the two games on Thursday night. (Tim Campbell)
June 9, 2022

TULSA, OK – The Tulsa Drillers played their fifth doubleheader of the season Thursday night at ONEOK Field, and for the second time, they were on the wrong side of a sweep. Northwest Arkansas won both games of the twin-bill, overcoming a three-run Drillers lead in game one for a

TULSA, OK – The Tulsa Drillers played their fifth doubleheader of the season Thursday night at ONEOK Field, and for the second time, they were on the wrong side of a sweep. Northwest Arkansas won both games of the twin-bill, overcoming a three-run Drillers lead in game one for a 5-3 victory. In the second game, the Naturals blanked the Drillers 3-0.

With the two losses, the Drillers fell 1.5 games behind first-place Wichita in the division race. The Wind Surge split a doubleheader at Arkansas. The first half of the Texas League season will conclude on June 26.

GAME 1 BOXSCORE

GAME 2 BOXSCORE

Thursday’s doubleheader began well for the Drillers as they jumped in front in the opener when Brandon Lewis belted a two-run blast into the Budweiser Terrace in left field in the bottom of the second inning.

The lead increased to 3-0 in the third thanks to a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Ward. For the Drillers, it would mark their final offensive output of the night.

Tulsa starting pitcher John Rooney did not allow a hit through the first three innings, but he ran into trouble in the fourth. The Naturals got their first hit with one out on Nick Loftin’s solo home run. After a base hit from Michael Massey, Logan Porter hit his seventh homer of the year and the score was quickly tied at 3-3.

Tulsa leftfielder James Outman made the defensive play of the game in the top of the sixth to keep it tied. The Naturals had the potential go-ahead run at second base with two outs when Porter hit a line drive down the left field line. It seemed destined to be a run-scoring double, but Outman went into a headlong dive to make a backhanded catch to rob Porter and keep the game tied.

Outman nearly saved the Drillers again in the top of the seventh. With a runner at first base with one out, John Rave turned on a pitch from Tulsa reliever Jose Adames and hit a deep fly into the left field corner. Outman raced to his right and made a leaping attempt to pull the drive in. The ball was in his glove momentarily before dislodging when Outman crashed into the fence, resulting in double that put runners at second and third. Two pitcher later, Jake Means singled into right field to plate one of them and give the Naturals the lead. A passed ball allowed Rave to score and make it a 5-3 game.

Northwest Arkansas reliever Jonah Dipoto worked around a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh to close out the game.

Jordan Leasure worked a scoreless relief inning in game one for the Drillers. Tim Campbell

The Naturals carried the momentum into the nightcap, taking a 1-0 lead just two pitches into the game. Maikel Garcia doubled on Landon Knack’s first pitch. On Knack’s next offering, Nick Loftin hit a liner to the base of the right field wall with Garcia scoring on an errant throw back to the infield by right fielder Andy Pages.

Newcomer Leonel Valera nearly tied the game for the Drillers in the top of the third with what would have been his first Double-A homer, but Naturals right fielder Rave reached over the fence to make a catch and rob Valera.

Northwest Arkansas added two more runs in the fourth thanks to a walk and three straight singles against Knack.

The Drillers never threatened a comeback, totaling only three hits in the loss. It marked just the second time this year that they were shut out in a game.

HIGHLIGHTS AND HAPPENINGS:

*Knack was charged with all three runs in the second game and with the loss. He recorded nine strikeouts in five innings of work.

*Valera was the only Tulsa player with a hit in each game. He was 1-3 in the first game and 1-2 in the finale.

*The two teams combined for just one error in the two games.

*Adames was charged with the game one loss, dropping his record to 0-1.

*Rooney allowed three hits and three runs in five complete innings in the opener. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.

*The game one home run from Lewis was his third of the season.

*Dipoto, who got the game one save, is the son of Jerry Dipoto, the president of baseball operations for the Seattle Mariners.

UP NEXT:

The Drillers and Naturals will play the fourth game of their six-game series on Friday night. First pitch at ONEOK Field is set for 7:05 p.m. and the starting pitchers are scheduled to be:

NW Arkansas – TBA

Tulsa – RHP Bobby Miller (2-1, 4.38 ERA)