Drillers Take on Springfield in Series Opener
Springfield, MO - The Tulsa Drillers hung on for the 6-4 win against the Springfield Cardinals before 2,875 fans at Hammons Field on Monday night.
For the third time in their last four games, the Cardinals (20-11, 55-46) dealt the first blow in the opening inning. Facing RHP Dennis Santana (W, 1-0), RF Magneuris Sierra led off with a line drive single to left-center field. CF Oscar Mercado chopped into a fielder's choice that retired Sierra at second but allowed Mercado to reach. He then raced around to third base on a single from SS Darren Seferina, tacking a 10th game onto his hitting streak. With runners at the corners, LF Anthony Garcia brought in Mercado from third base with an RBI grounder to short, lifting the Cardinals into the 1-0 lead.
RHP Chris Ellis (L, 2-5) kept the narrow advantage intact with scoreless work through his first three innings, but Tulsa (18-13, 51-50) broke through in the top of the fourth. 3B Matt Beaty worked a walk to lead off, before racing all the way home on an RBI double by RF Blake Gailen to center field, squaring the score at 1-1. Two outs later, Drillers RHP Dennis Santana sliced an RBI single to center field, bringing home Gailen for the 2-1 Tulsa lead.
The Cardinals battled it right back even in the bottom of the fourth. 2B Bruce Caldwell worked a walk to open the inning, before going to second base when 3B Jacob Wilson was hit by a pitch. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, though it served as strike three to C Jesse Jenner for the frame's first out. Ellis lined out to short for the second out, but Sierra came through with a two-out RBI single off the bag at third, scoring Caldwell from third base to tie the game, 2-2.
The Drillers swung right back in front in the top of the fifth. With one on and two away, 3B Matt Beaty belted a two-run shot to right field, swinging Tulsa in front once again, 4-2.
Tulsa padded the lead with an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning against RHP Trey Nielsen. SS Errol Robinson led off with a single, before taking second on a groundout from 2B Jose Fernandez. 1B Peter O'Brien brought in Robinson with an RBI double to center field, adding to the advantage, 5-2.
The Cardinals shaved the deficit right away in the bottom of the seventh against RHP Shea Spitzbarth. A leadoff walk from Sierra started the stanza, before he raced around to third base one out later on a single from Seferina. With Garcia at bat, Seferina swiped second base and drew an errant throw from C Garrett Kennedy that skipped away to right-center field, enabling Sierra to dart home from third base and cut the deficit to 5-3.
The Drillers added an RBI double from CF Tim Locastro in the top of the eighth, but Springfield had one last rally attempt in the bottom of the ninth against RHP Layne Somsen (S, 2). Mercado led off with a walk before stealing second base. A groundout moved Mercado to third, and then he darted home on an RBI grounder from Garcia to bring Springfield within two runs, 6-4. The Cards added a base hit and a walk, loading the bases in the ninth, but Somsen escaped with a game-ending groundout and the Drillers hung on, 6-4
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