The Tulsa Drillers road woes continued Saturday night in west Texas. A bases-loaded double by Midland's Anthony Aliotti in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a 1-1 tie and sent the RockHounds to a 5-1 win over the Drillers in the first game of a three-game series. The defeat was the fifth straight for the Drillers and left them winless in four games in their current road trip.
Tulsa lost despite a brilliant outing from starting pitcher Dan Houston. Houston surrendered only five hits and one run in seven strong innings.
He departed with the scored tied, and the RockHounds promptly took the lead thanks to Aliotti's heroics. Tim Sexton relieved Houston and retired the first two batters in the bottom of the eighth before running into trouble. Dusty Coleman's two-out single prolonged the inning and set up one of the game's key plays. The Midland shortstop attempted to steal second base and the throw from Tulsa catcher Jose Gonzalez appeared to beat Coleman to the bag, but he was ruled safe, keeping the inning alive.
Sexton then issued walks to Conner Crumbliss and Tyler Ladendorf to load the bases and set the stage for Aliotti. The first baseman hit a 2-2 pitch from Sexton into the gap in left-center field that scored all three base runners and gave the RockHounds a 4-1 lead. After an infield single by Miles Head, Mike Solbach took over for Sexton and surrendered a run-scoring base hit to Matt Rizzotti that extended the Hounds lead to four runs.
Reliever Gary Daley pitched around a leadoff walk in the top of the ninth to close out the win for Midland.
The only damage against Houston came in the second inning on a solo home run from Head. The homer was Head's fourth of the year and gave the RockHounds a 1-0 lead.
It held until the fifth inning when the Drillers produced their only run. With one out, Mike Zuanich drew a walk from Midland starter Shawn Haviland, and Chris Pettit followed with a single that Ladendorf misplayed in right field, putting runners at first and third. Catcher Jose Gonzalez then lined a base hit that brought Zuanich home to tie the game at 1-1.
It was the lone offensive bright spot for the Drillers, as they were limited to only five hits in the game.
The loss dropped Tulsa's season record to 62-62. It is the first time since April 6 that the Drillers record has stood at .500.
The two teams will play the second game of their series Sunday night at Citibank Ballpark. Parker Frazier (4-13, 4.09 ERA) will take the mound for the Drillers against Sonny Gray (5-8, 4.20 ERA) of the RockHounds. Starting time is scheduled for 6:00PM.