Tulsa wins tug o'war on Cleary Jr. walk-off
TULSA (KFAQ) - Delta Cleary Jr. ended an epic match of tug o' war between the Tulsa Drillers and Arkansas Travelers in walk-off fashion on Sunday night. With two on and two out in the ninth, Cleary Jr. legged out an infield single to drive in Tyler Kuhn and give the Drillers a 9-8 victory over the Travelers at ONEOK Field.
The Drillers, whose two-run first inning was the result of "small ball", made the age-old adage "get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in" standup once again in the ninth. Kuhn drew a walk to lead off the final frame and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Angelys Nina. After Joey Wong was intentionally walked, Jayson Langfels productively grounded out to second base to move both runners up with two outs. Cleary Jr. did the rest with a well-place grounder between third and short. Travs' shortstop Rolando Gomez ranged far into the hole to field the grounder, but his throw to first was too late.
Cleary Jr. finished the game 3-4 with a homer and three RBI to pace Tulsa's 13-hit attack. It was the center fielder's second three-hit performance of the season.
The Drillers, who produced five hits in the first two games of their series with the Travelers, both losses, pounded out 25 hits in the final two games to salvage a series split. They improved to16-21 in the second half and 50-55 overall with the win.
Juan Gonzalez picked up his fourth win of the year after pitching 1.1 perfect innings of relief.
In a game that would see four lead changes and three ties, Tulsa executed flawlessly in the home half of the first to take an early 2-0 lead. Jaron Shepherd lined a double into the left-center field gap to get things started and advanced to third when Cristhian Adames followed with a bunt single down the third base line. Kiel Roling then drove in Shepherd with an RBI single into left field. After Dustin Garneau sacrificed both runners into scoring position, Tyler Kuhn scored Adames from third with an RBI groundout.
Arkansas responded with a run in the second to cut the Drillers lead in half before turning the tide with two solo home runs in the third. Tulsa's arch nemesis Randal Grichuk was the first Traveler to go deep in the inning, hammering a solo shot onto the grass berm in left-center. The long ball was his 15th of the season and eighth against the Drillers. Taylor Lindsey followed with a solo job of his own to put Arkansas in front 3-2.
The Drillers and Travs traded runs in the fifth. Jett Bandy ripped Arkansas' third solo home run of the night in the top half of the inning before Roling answered with a sacrifice fly to plate Shepherd in the home half.
In the sixth, Arkansas regained its two-run advantage on an RBI single by Gomez before Delta Cleary Jr. evened things up at 5-5. With Joey Wong on first and two away, Cleary Jr. went yard for the first time this season, homering into the Drillers' right-center field bullpen.
The tug o' war heated up in the seventh. Lindsey tallied his third hit of the night, a double into the right field corner, to get the inning started. Cyle Hankerd went yard two pitches later, depositing his second home run as a Traveler over the wall in right field to give his new club another two-run lead.
Tulsa again erased its deficit with three runs on three doubles in the bottom half to take an 8-7 lead. Adames reached base for the third time by drawing a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a double by Roling. After a sacrifice fly by Garneau scored Adames, Roling came around to score on an RBI double by Kuhn. Angelys Nina then got into the mix with an RBI double of his own to put Tulsa ahead.
A defensive miscue by Tulsa in the eighth allowed Arkansas to tie the game at eight. With runners at first and second, Grichuk singled through the left side. The runner from second, Jett Bandy, appeared to be stopping at third base before the ground ball eluded Shepherd's glove in left, allowing the catcher to scamper home.
Cleary Jr. capped the big offensive night with his walk-off hit in the ninth.
In addition to Cleary Jr., three other Drillers turned in multi-hit performances, including Roling who went 3-4 with two RBI.
The Drillers will return to ONEOK Field Monday night to begin a three-game set with the Springfield Cardinals. Tulsa's Tyler Matzek (7-6, 3.02 ERA) will be going for his fourth straight win as he takes the mound against fellow southpaw Jonathan Cornelius (2-5, 5.85 ERA) of Springfield. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05PM.