Drillers Tie Franchise Home Run Record in 11-7 Win
FRISCO, TX – The Tulsa Drillers began their final road trip of the regular season with an early 11:05 a.m. start on Tuesday against the Frisco RoughRiders at Riders Field. The series holds playoff implications for the RoughRiders as they began the series with a two-game lead over second place
FRISCO, TX – The Tulsa Drillers began their final road trip of the regular season with an early 11:05 a.m. start on Tuesday against the Frisco RoughRiders at Riders Field. The series holds playoff implications for the RoughRiders as they began the series with a two-game lead over second place Midland in the second-half standings of the Texas League’s South Division.
In Tuesday’s opener, Tulsa earned an 11-7 win in a back and forth game in which Abiatal Avelino drove in four runs to help produce the victory. Justin Yurchak and Ryan Ward each homered, giving the Drillers 184 total home runs on the season, tying the franchise record that was set in 2018.
The Drillers wasted little time in putting runs on the board. Leonel Valera began the game with a leadoff walk, and in the next at-bat, Yurchak deposited a two-run homer into the park’s Lazy River beyond the right field fence.
Frisco used two doubles in the bottom of the first inning to plate its first run to bring the score to 2-1.
The Drillers then scored a run in each of the next two innings to increase their lead.
Brandon Lewis began the second with a strikeout but reached first base when the ball got away from catcher Scott Kapers and then advanced to second on Kapers’ errant throw. Lewis scored Tulsa’s third run on a double from Avelino.
In the third inning, a single by Yurchak and a walk to Carson Taylor set up Lewis, who delivered a run-scoring single that gave Tulsa a 4-1 lead.
That lead quickly disappeared in the bottom of the third as Frisco scored four runs. The first run scored on a sacrifice fly from Justin Foscue. Tulsa starting pitcher Nick Frasso walked two batters, ending his day Gus Varland on from the bullpen. Kellen Straham greeted Varland with a go-ahead three-run homer as the RoughRiders took a 5-4 lead.
The Riders’ lead lasted until the fifth inning when Tulsa used the help of five walks to go back on top. After the first three walks loaded the bases, Avelino delivered his second double of the game to plate two runs to give the Drillers back the lead. The inning’s fourth walk once again loaded the bases, and a fifth walk forced in another run that gave the Drillers a 7-5 lead.
Tulsa reliever Alec Gamboa entered in the fourth inning and threw three hitless innings, allowing just one walk, before running into trouble in the seventh. A hit batter, a walk and a strikeout ended Gamboa’s afternoon. With Jose Adames in the game, Justin Foscue singled to load the bases, and Blaine Crim hit a sacrifice fly to bring the score to 7-6.
Ryan Ward gave Tulsa an insurance run in the eighth by hitting his 28th home run. It was the team’s 184th homer of the season, tying the franchise record.
In the bottom of the eighth, Tulsa pitcher Jose Hernandez picked Miguel Aparicio off first base and caught him in a rundown, but a missed catch error by Avelino allowed Kellen Strahm to score from third base, once again trimming the Drillers lead to just one run.
Tulsa took much of the suspense out of the bottom of the ninth by scoring three more runs in the top half of the inning. An RBI fielder’s choice, an RBI single and a sacrifice fly accounted for the runs that expanded the Drillers lead to 11-7.
With the four-run cushion, Jordan Leasure set the Riders down in order in the bottom of the ninth to complete the win.
HIGHLIGHTS AND HAPPENINGS:
*The homers from Yurchak and Ward upped Tulsa’s season home run total to 184, matching the franchise record for the most home runs in a season. The 2018 Drillers also hit 184 homers. There are still 11 games remaining in the regular season for Tulsa to set a new season high.
*The win gave Tulsa consecutive wins for the first time since August 10 and 11, when the Drillers won back-to-back games against Midland.
*Yurchak has reached base in 19 consecutive games and has hit safely in 40 of his last 46 games, hitting for a .353 average in that stretch.
*Ward’s solo blast was his first homer in 14 games. He ranks second in the Texas League for the most home runs, trailing Amarillo’s Leandro Cedeno, who has 30.
*In his last 15 games, Hernandez has a 1.13 ERA in 16.0 innings pitched.
*Jeren Kendall earned two hits in a game for the first time in his last 29 games.
*Two Tulsa players made early exits from the game. Taylor was taken out after a foul tip hit him in the mask, and Pages left in the ninth after running from first to third base.
*The Drillers and RoughRiders will meet again on Wednesday night in the second game of their six-game series. Starting time is set for 6:35 p.m. at Riders Field in Frisco, TX and the starting pitchers are scheduled to be:
Tulsa- LHP John Rooney (4-6, 5.67 ERA)
Frisco- RHP Tim Brennan (6-3, 2.94 ERA)