PRESS RELEASE – For a while Friday night, the Tulsa Drillers and Arkansas Travelers engaged in a pitchers’ duel similar to the one that took place a night earlier. Then Randal Grichuk came to bat in the top of the eighth inning.
With the score tied 1-1 and runners on the corners, Arkansas’ designated hitter blasted a three-run shot over the wall in right field to give the Travelers what would be a 4-1 win over the Drillers before a sellout crowd of 7,931 at ONEOK Field.
The large crowd broke the record for most sellouts in one season in the downtown ballpark, surpassing the 12 sellouts that occurred during the stadium’s inaugural season in 2010.
Tulsa falls to 14-21 in the second half with the loss. Arkansas meanwhile moves into a tie with Northwest Arkansas atop the North Division standings.
The Travelers’ recent addition, Cyle Hankerd, gave his new club an early lead with his RBI double in the first. Taylor Lindsey drew a one-out walk and came around to score when Hankerd’s liner rattled around in the left field corner.
Pitchers on both sides settled in for the next six-plus innings before Kyle Parker finally ended the Drillers’ scoreless streak in the seventh.
Parker led off the home half of the inning with his 18th home run of the season to square the game at 1-1. The opposite field shot that landed on the grass berm in right field ended Tulsa’s scoring drought at 17 innings.
The tie ballgame didn’t last long as Grichuk’s three-run homer in the eighth gave Arkansas the lead for good. With one out in the inning, Jett Bandy won a ten-pitch battle with reliever Josh Mueller, lining a single to right. Jimmy Swift followed with a 13-pitch at-bat that resulted in a single up the middle and advanced Bandy to third. Hard-throwing right-hander Juan Gonzalez then came on to face Grichuk, only to surrender the Texas League All-Star’s 14th home run of year on his first pitch.
Mueller suffered his first loss of the year after allowing two runs on three hits in 2.2 innings. The right-hander from Illinois came on in relief of starter Dan Houston with two outs in the fifth.
Houston, who has pitched primarily from the bullpen over the last two months, made his 11th start of the year on Friday. He gave up just one run on four hits in 4.2 innings for the no decision.
The two teams return to downtown Tulsa Saturday night for game three of their series. Tim Gustafson (5-7, 4.30 ERA), who has earned quality starts in five of his last six outings, will take the mound for Tulsa. Arkansas will counter with Michael Roth (2-2, 3.61 ERA), the left-hander from South Carolina who has made 15 appearances in the majors this season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. First pitch at ONEOK Field is scheduled for 7:05PM.