Top prospects fuel Travs over Drillers
TULSA (KFAQ) - Seven of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's Top 10 minor league prospects, as rated by MLB.com, are currently on the roster of the Arkansas Travelers. Wednesday night at ONEOK Field, several of those top prospects lived up to their billing in a 12-6 victory over the Tulsa Drillers.
Top prospects Kaleb Cowart (#1), C.J. Cron (#2), Taylor Lindsey (#4) and Randal Grichuk (#5) combined to account for 9 of the Travelers' 16 hits in the contest. The group helped to provide more than enough offense for starting pitcher Mike Piazza, who allowed only four hits and one run in five innings of work in his return to the Double A level.
The loss was the sixth straight for the Drillers and dropped them three games out of first place in the second-half North Division standings. The Travs moved into sole possession of first place with the victory, one game in front of both Springfield and Northwest Arkansas.
Arkansas took a lead in the first inning that it never relinquished. Tulsa starter Tyler Matzek retired the game's first two batters before Cyle Hankerd lined a single into left field. Cron then hit a slicing liner down the right field that fell in front of a diving Tyler Kuhn. The ball skipped past the right fielder, allowing Hankerd to score the game's first run.
The Travelers upped their lead to 2-0 in the fourth. Matzek hit Robbie Widlansky with his first pitch of the inning, and Jett Bandy followed with a lined single to left. Cowart brought Widlansky home with another base hit.
Tulsa got on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the fourth. Tim Smalling led off with a hit, and Kyle Parker drew a walk. After Dustin Garneau laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position, third baseman Cowart failed to handle a bouncer off the bat of Angelys Nina. The error by Cowart allowed Smalling to score to make it 2-1.
Arkansas plated four unearned runs in the fifth. With two outs and a runner at first, Matzek appeared to be out of the inning when Cron hit a grounder to third, but Smalling misplayed the ball for an error. Widlansky then drew a walk to load the bases before Bandy emptied them with a grand slam home run. The blast to left-center field was the catcher's fourth homer of the season and put the Travs in front 6-1.
They increased the lead to 8-1 in the seventh when Widlansky added a two-run homer off reliever Mike Solbach.
The Drillers plated their second run in the seventh when Joey Wong doubled and eventually scored on a ground out by Delta Cleary Jr.
Tulsa moved closer with a pair of runs in the eighth inning. Smalling led off with a hit and moved to third on a double by Kyle Parker. Nina and Garneau followed with consecutive run-scoring singles to cut the lead to 8-4.
The Travelers added four more runs in the final inning. Cron plated the first two with his 11th home run of the season. An error and a sacrifice fly accounted for the final Arkansas runs of the game.
Juan Crousset and Cleary Jr. both singled to start the bottom of the ninth and ended up scoring to bring the final tally to 12-6.
Offensively, the Drillers produced 15 hits in the game, 3 short of matching a season high. Eight of the Tulsa's nine starters got at least one hit in the game with Smalling and Cleary Jr. producing three each.
Cowart led the Travs' 16-hit attack by going 4-5. Bandy finished with three hits, and Cron, Grichuk and Hankerd all had two.
The two teams will be back in action Thursday night at ONEOK Field. Eddie Butler (0-0, 0.60 ERA) will pitch for Tulsa, looking for his first Double-A victory. On the mound for Arkansas will be ex-Drillers hurler Brandon Hynick (10-4, 2.63 ERA). Starting time is scheduled for 7:05PM.