The Tulsa Drillers entered North Little Rock on Wednesday looking for their first win in over a week after dropping six straight games at home. Unfortunately for Tulsa, the red-hot Arkansas Travelers stood in the way. Carlos Ramirez drove in four runs to pace Arkansas offensively, while ex-Driller Brandon Hynick bested his former team for the second time this season as the Travelers defeated the Drillers 7-2 at Dickey-Stephens Park.
The loss extends Tulsa's winless streak to a season-high seven games. The first-half division champs are now 7-12 in the second half and 41-46 overall.
Hynick, who made 12 starts for Tulsa last season and 27 in 2008, settled down after a rocky first inning to record his eighth victory of the year for Arkansas. The Texas League All-Star allowed two runs on seven hits through 6.2 innings, while striking out five and walking none.
Drillers' starter Sean Gallagher suffered his third loss of the year. The right-hander allowed four runs on nine hits, striking out three and walking one, to raise his ERA to a still impressive 2.17.
Tulsa wasted little time getting on the board in the first. After Delta Cleary Jr. led off the game with a ground out, Cristhian Adames lined a single into center field. Kyle Parker followed by blasting his 14th home run over the wall in left-center to put the Drillers in front. The two-run dinger was Parker's second in as many games.
Arkansas stormed back to tie things up in the home half of the second. After retiring the first two batters with ease, Gallagher ran into trouble after Travis Witherspoon reached on an infield single to extend the inning. Robbie Widlansky followed with a line drive single to right. With runners on the corners, the Travs' catcher Ramirez drove a 0-1 offering from Gallagher deep to center for his first two-run double of the night.
The same trio of Travelers' responsible for Arkansas' two-run second produced two more runs in the sixth. Again with two outs, Witherspoon lined a single to left to keep the inning alive. The speedy center fielder then stole second, after which Tulsa opted to walk Widlansky and setup a force out at any base. Ramirez delivered once again, lining his second two-out, two-run double into the left-center field gap to give Arkansas a 4-2 lead.
The Travs' added another run in the seventh to stretch their lead to three. Randal Grichuk led off the inning with a base hit through the left side, advanced to second on a balk and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor Lindsey. Luis Montanez then plated Grichuk with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Arkansas' Ronaldo Gomez put the game out of reach in the eighth. With runners on first and second, the shortstop capped off the scoring by ripping the Travs' third two-out, two-run double of the night.
The two runs scored by Arkansas in the eighth were the first runs Leuris Gomez has allowed since joining the Drillers early last month. He did, however, strikeout four batters in the frame. After Kaleb Cowart reached on a third-strike wild pitch to lead off, Gomez recorded all three outs in the inning via the strikeout.
Tulsa will look to snap its losing streak Thursday night as the two teams return to Dickey-Stephens Park for game two of their four-game series. Tulsa's Tim Gustafson (5-6, 4.78 ERA) will take the mound looking for his sixth victory of the year. Arkansas has yet to announce its starter. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10PM.