The Tulsa Drillers fell in an early hole Saturday night and were never able to get out of it. Springfield scored four early runs and held off late-inning comeback attempts from the Drillers to post a 5-4 victory before 6,785 fans at ONEOK Field.
The defeat evens the four-game series between the two teams at one win apiece. It leaves the Drillers with a 2-2 record in the second-half of the season.
Springfield's Xavier Scruggs opened Saturday's scoring in the top of the second inning with a two-run homer off Tulsa starter Joe Gardner. For Scruggs, it was his 12th round-tripper of the season.
The Cards padded their lead with single runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. The fourth-inning run was unearned. With two outs and the bases empty, Greg Garcia chopped a ball in front of the plate that catcher Lars Davis fielded and threw to first, but first baseman Ben Paulsen dropped the throw for an error. Scruggs followed with a double to left that plated Garcia to make it 3-0.
In the fifth, the lead swelled to four runs as Kolten Wong drew a walk and scored on a double by Jake Shaffer that rolled to the wall in deep, left-center field.
Scott McGregor relieved Springfield starter Trevor Rosenthal to open the sixth inning, and the Drillers produced their first run of the game. After McGregor retired pinch-hitter Angelys Nina, Josh Rutledge doubled. After Corey Dickerson flied out, Nolan Arenado lined a single into centerfield to plate Rutledge.
Tulsa had a chance to make it a bigger inning as Ben Paulsen walked and Kent Matthes reached on an infield single to load the bases with two outs, but Mike Mitchell popped out to second baseman Wong to end the threat.
The Drillers crept closer in the top of the eighth inning. Josh Rutledge led off with a line drive base hit that shortstop Greg Garcia could not handle. Dickerson then hit a drive over the head of centerfielder Oscar Taveras. Rutledge scored on the hit as Dickerson raced to third.
After Nolan Arenado drew a walk, Jorge Rondon took over for McGregor. The Springfield reliever got a double play grounder off the bat of Paulsen that plated Dickerson to make it 4-3.
In the ninth, Travis Tartamella delivered a blow to Tulsa's comeback hopes. With two outs and the bases empty, the Cards' catcher drove a pitch from Cory Riordan over the fence and onto the berm in left-center field to increase the Drillers deficit to two runs.
The run proved big when the Drillers attempted another rally in the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Kiel Roling led off with a double and scored when Lars Davis followed with a base hit. Warren Schaeffer grounded into a double play that took Davis off the base paths. Tim Torres made one final bid to tie the game with a deep drive that Taveras caught just in front of the centerfield fence to end the game.
Rosenthal picked up the win to even his record at 6-6, with two of the victories coming against Tulsa. The highly-ranked prospect has now pitched 25 1/3 innings against the Drillers this season, logging a 1.42 ERA.
It was an unusually tough defensive game for the Drillers. They entered the game as the Texas League's top fielding team but committed a season high four errors.
Catcher Lars Davis matched a season high with three hits.
The two teams will play the third game of their four-game series Sunday night at ONEOK Field. Dan Houston (7-5, 3.10 ERA) will take the mound for the Drillers, while the Cardinals will counter with another highly-ranked prospect, Richard Castillo (4-1, 2.62 ERA). First pitch switches to 7:05PM for this and all remaining Sunday games this season.