In the first game of a series that figures to be a preview of the Texas League North Division first round playoff matchup between Tulsa and Springfield, the Cardinals rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Drillers 4-3 in extra innings. Jamie Romak's bloop single with the bases loaded in the tenth inning won it for Springfield.
Springfield jumped out to an early lead in the second when Jose Garcia reached on a fielder's choice and scored when Travis Tartamella single to left field. It was Tartamella's sixth RBI of the season.
The Drillers took the lead in top of the third by stringing together four consecutive singles with two outs. The bases were loaded when Mike Zuanich stroked a soft liner into center field scoring Corey Dickerson and Jimmy Cesario to push the Drillers ahead 2-1.
Tulsa added to its lead in the fifth and, again, all the damage came with two outs. After Martinez struck out Houston and retired Dickerson on a fly out, Cesario reached on a ground ball up the middle that second baseman Kolten Wong unsuccessfully tried to bare hand. Nolan Arenado walked, which brought Zuanich to the plate for the third time in the game with runners in scoring position. Zuanich delivered again, slapping a double down the third-base line allowing Cesario to score from second and putting Tulsa up 3-1.
The Cardinals cut the Drillers two-run lead in half in the bottom of the fifth. Back-to-back singles by Jose Garcia and Tartamella put runners on the corners for Vance Albitz, who was on to pinch-hit for starter Carlos Martinez. Albitz ripped a double into the gap in right-center field plating Garcia, making it 3-2 Tulsa.
Houston was injured on the play while backing up home plate on Albitz's double and was forced to leave the game. Tim Sexton replaced Houston with runners on second and third and no outs. Sexton put down Wong and Greg Garcia on strikes and enticed Jermaine Curtis to ground out to first to get out of the jam unscathed.
Jose Garcia belted Sexton's first pitch of the seventh inning over the wall in left-center field for a solo home run tying the game at 3-3.
After neither team was able to score in the final two frames the game went into extra innings.
In the bottom of the tenth Mike Marbry retired the first two batters, but Wong singled and advanced to second on a passed ball. With first base open, Greg Garcia was intentionally walked and the next batter, Curtis, was hit by a pitch to load the bases. That's when Romak blooped Marbry's 1-2 offering into left field for a single, scoring Wong for the 4-3 walk-off win.
Zuanich had an impressive night for the Drillers collecting three hits and driving in three runs. Zuanich is batting .364 with eight RBI in 11 games since returning from the disabled list.
Game two of the series will take place Saturday night at Hammons Field. Major Leaguer Jamie Garcia will make a rehab start for Springfield against Tyler Chatwood (1-1, 3.00 ERA) for the Drillers. Start time is scheduled for 6:08 pm.
NOTES: Springfield closer Jorge Rondon was called up to Triple-A Memphis before the game.