Springfield, MO – The Springfield Cardinals struck for two runs in the bottom of the ninth, but the Tulsa Drillers escaped with a 6-5 win before 5,228 fans at Hammons Field. The Cardinals and Drillers are back into a tie for 1st place in the North Division Second Half Standings with only eight games remaining.
The Drillers (39-23, 72-60) opened an early advantage with a two-out run against RHP Ryan Helsley (L, 3-1) in the top of the first inning. After Helsley struck out the first two batters of the game, 1B Matt Beaty and LF Kyle Garlick knocked consecutive singles to extend the stanza. CF Blake Gailen followed with an RBI base hit, plating Beaty to open the 1-0 lead for Tulsa.
The Cardinals (39-23, 74-58), however, responded right away with a three-run bottom of the first against RHP Dennis Santana (W, 3-1). CF Magneuris Sierra ignited the rally with a leadoff triple to right-center field. LF Randy Arozarena chopped an RBI single through the left side, bringing in Sierra to tie the game. Arozarena then went first to third when an infield single from 3B Darren Seferina led to a throwing error on 3B Erick Mejia. Both Arozarena and Seferina came racing home when RF Adolis Garcia pelted a two-run double off the right-center field fence, swinging Springfield into the 3-1 lead.
Helsley dug in with seven straight outs from the end of the first through striking out the side in the third, but the Drillers came back in the top of the fourth. Leading off the inning, Garlick powered a solo shot to right field, slicing the Drillers deficit down to 3-2. Helsley got the next two in order, but lost 3B Erick Mejia to a two-out walk. Mejia took off on a pitch trying to steal second base and drew an errant throw from C Jeremy Martinez, enabling Mejia to wind up at third base. A wild pitch from Helsley then skipped away, allowing Mejia to score from third for the 3-3 tie.
Both sides exchanged a scoreless fifth, but the Drillers jolted in front in the top of the sixth inning. Gailen got the bats going again with a double, followed by an RBI double from RF Yusniel Diaz for the 4-3 lead. After a groundout moved Diaz to third base with two away, LHP Jacob Evans took over on the mound. However, C Garrett Kennedy won the battle with an RBI single to right field, scoring Diaz for the 5-3 advantage.
The Drillers added a crucial insurance run in the top of the ninth inning against RHP Rowan Wick. A two-out walk from 2B Drew Jackson extended the inning, before a balk by Wick moved Jackson to second. He then darted home on a two-out RBI single from SS Errol Robinson, increasing the Tulsa lead to 6-3.
The Cardinals refused to go down without a fight, rallying in the bottom of the ninth against RHP Corey Copping (S, 18). SS Tommy Edman sparked the charge with a leadoff single, before OF Oscar Mercado launched a pinch-hit RBI double to left-center field to score Edman. Pinch-hitting OF Anthony Garcia worked a walk to put runners at first and second, followed by a sacrifice bunt from Sierra that moved the runners to second and third. A free pass from Arozarena loaded the bases for 3B Jacob Wilson, who laced an RBI sacrifice fly to left field that plated Mercado. With two on and two down, Adolis Garcia drew a walk to reload the bases and keep the game going. 2B Eliezer Alvarez came up with Springfield within one run, the bases loaded and two away, but Copping prevailed with a game-ending strikeout and the Drillers escaped with a 6-5 win.