For 2½ games, the Tulsa Drillers offense was non-existent in a series at Springfield's Hammons Field. Tulsa had been held to only 15 hits and 1 run by the Cardinals in the first 24 innings of the series, but with one swing of the bat Saturday afternoon, the offense came to life.
The big swing came courtesy of catcher Jose Gonzalez who hit a game-tying home run in the seventh. Nolan Arenado then put the Drillers in front the following inning with a run-scoring double as the Drillers rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Redbirds.
The come-from-behind win broke a two-game losing streak for the Drillers and improved their record to 10-5. It also moved first-place Tulsa two games in front of the second-place Cardinals.
Springfield's Xavier Scruggs was solely responsible for all of the game's offense through the first six innings. The first baseman opened the scoring with a two-out, solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning that gave the Redbirds a 1-0 lead.
Scruggs doubled the margin with another two-out homer in the sixth. After striking out the first two hitters in the sixth, Drillers lefthander Nick Schmidt thought he had struck out Scruggs to end the inning, but home plate umpire Gabriel Morales did not oblige with the called third strike. On the next pitch, Scruggs cleared the right field wall with his second homer of the game and his third of the season to give Springfield a 2-0 cushion.
For much of the afternoon, it appeared as if Scruggs' blasts would be plenty of offense for Springfield as former OSU lefthander Tyler Lyons blanked the Drillers through the first six innings, surrendering only four singles.
Lyons departed after six innings, giving way to reliever Kevin Thomas. Thomas retired Kent Matthes to open the seventh, but Mike Zuanich singled with one out, setting the stage for Gonzalez. The catcher belted a full-count pitch from Thomas over the wall in left-center field to tie the score and double Tulsa's offensive output through the first 24 innings of the series. It was the first Double A home run for Gonzalez since the 2009 Texas League season.
The Drillers struck again in the eighth inning courtesy ofArenado and Mike Mitchell. With one out, Mitchell singled into centerfield off Eric Fornataro, bringing Arenado to the plate. After a pitchout on a 0-2 count, Mitchell broke for second on the following delivery. Arenado lined the offering into the left field corner, plating Mitchell all the way from first to give the Drillers their first lead of the series.
It was a big day for Gonzalez. He finished three hits, two runs batted in, one run scored and one stolen base.
Schmidt was unable to get his first win of the season, but he again pitched effectively. In six innings, he was hurt only by the home runs from Scruggs. Overall, Schmidt allowed the two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out seven.
Mike Marbry picked up the win, holding the Cardinals without a hit in two scoreless relief innings. The outing lowered the right-hander's ERA to 1.08.
Josh Sullivan pitched around a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth inning to record his third save of the year.
Tulsa will play the finale of its four-game series in Springfield at 2:08PM Sunday afternoon. The pitching matchup will feature Joe Gardner (0-0, 3.00 ERA) for the Drillers against Scott Gorgen (0-1, 2.63 ERA) for the Cardinals.