TULSA, OK – Reggie Jackson famously hit three World Series home runs on three straight swings for the New York Yankees in game six of the 1978 World Series. On Tuesday night at ONEOK Field, Tulsa’s Chris Betts did his best Reggie impression. Betts hit two home runs on his
TULSA, OK – Reggie Jackson famously hit three World Series home runs on three straight swings for the New York Yankees in game six of the 1978 World Series. On Tuesday night at ONEOK Field, Tulsa’s Chris Betts did his best Reggie impression. Betts hit two home runs on his first two swings of the night, but came up short of matching the three-swing performance in his third at-bat.
Betts did not match Reggie, but he still had more heroics. After the Drillers lost a four-run lead, he struck again in the bottom of the seventh with a run-scoring double on a full-count pitch, helping Tulsa rally for a 9-7 win over the Springfield Cardinals.
The first home run from Betts came with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. His drive cleared the bullpen and produced the game’s first run.
The catcher struck again in the fifth. After Kody Hoese singled and Abiatal Avelino doubled, Betts made it two homers in two swings when he again jumped on the first pitch he saw, hitting his second homer onto the right field berm for three more runs that put Tulsa up 4-0.
The Cardinals needed just one inning to erase the lead that Betts produced. Springfield got its first run when reliever John Rooney walked Mike Antico to open the top of the sixth inning. Antico stole second, but Rooney appeared to have removed him from the base paths when he caught him with off the second base bag, but the Tulsa pitcher’s throw to third sailed high, allowing Antico to jog home.
The error seemed to unnerve Rooney, as he issued three walks while giving up a base hit and throwing a wild pitch that gave Springfield its second run of the inning.
Gus Varland came on to replace Rooney with two outs and the bases loaded and his first pitch was deposited into the left field terrace by Chandler Redmond for a grand slam homer that put the Cardinals in front 6-4.
The Drillers responded and Betts again played a big role. In the seventh, Jeren Kendall walked and Avelino singled. Betts made a bid for his third home run, but his drive into the right-centerfield gap bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double that pulled Tulsa to within a run.
Leonel Valera and Justin Yurchak followed with run-scoring hits that put the Drillers back in front 7-6.
Andy Pages and Brandon Lewis delivered sacrifice flies later in the seventh that upped the Tulsa lead to 9-6.
A solo home run from Nick Raposo leading off the eighth inning pulled the Cardinals to within two runs, but they would have no further rally.
Varland retired the next three batters in the eighth, and Jordan Leasure worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the win for the Drillers.
Springfield finally retired Betts for the only time in the game when he went down on strikes in the bottom of the eighth.
HIGHLIGHTS AND HAPPENINGS:
*The Drillers defeat of the Cardinals clinched the second-half North Division title for Wichita. That sets up a first-round playoff meeting between the Drillers and the Wind Surge with game one on September 20 in Wichita. Tulsa will host game two at ONEOK Field on September 22, and, if necessary, game three on September 23.
*Betts finished the game 3-4 with two homers, a double and five runs batted in. The RBI for Betts matched his career high, while it was the third time he has hit two home runs in a game.
*Tulsa starting pitcher Nick Frasso turned in a solid outing, allowing just four hits in four shutout innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out two.
*Varland was credited with the win, his second in the month of September. It evens his season record at 4-4.
*Leasure has picked up saves in each of his last two appearances and now has five Double-A saves this season.
*The Drillers announced another roster move on Tuesday afternoon. Catcher Ryan January was placed on the Injured List and catcher Kekai Rios was added from Great Lakes.
*The two teams will have a quick turnaround as game two of their six-game series will start at 12:05 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. The pitching matchup is slated to be:
Springfield – RHP Logan Gragg (0-1, 6.94)
Tulsa - RHP Landon Knack (2-9, 4.80 ERA)