The Tulsa Drillers matched a season high Sunday night at Northwest Arkansas with their eighth straight win. Starting pitcher Brandon Hynick worked seven shutout innings, and Lars Davis hit a solo home run to produce a 3-1 victory over the Naturals.
The win came in the next-to-last regular season game for the Drillers. They will play the final game of the 2012 regular season Monday afternoon at Northwest Arkansas. Following a day off, Tulsa will begin play in the Texas League playoffs Wednesday evening by hosting Springfield at ONEOK Field.
Hynick was outstanding in Sunday's outing and increased his personal winning streak to three straight games. The right-hander, who did not join Tulsa until July 3, allowed six hits and did not walk a batter in his seven innings. He recorded six strikeouts while improving his season record with the Drillers to 7-3 and lowering his ERA to 2.11.
In his three-game winning streak, Hynick has surrendered only 2 runs in 20 innings pitched. On the season, he has allowed two runs or less in only 10 of his 12 outings with the Drillers.
For four innings of Sunday's game, Northwest Arkansas starter J.C. Sulbaran matched Hynick, blanking the Drillers on only two hits. Davis ended the scoreless battle when he led off the top of the fifth with his ninth home run of the year. The blast continued a recent power surge for the Tulsa catcher who has now homered in three of his past four games.
Former San Diego Padres star Kevin Kouzmanoff nearly ended Hynick's shutout in the sixth inning. The designated hitter belted a drive to deep right field that Tim Torres could not catch, but the Tulsa outfielder got a glove on the ball to keep it from clearing the fence and held Kouzmanoff to a double. Hynick escaped the one-out trouble by getting a fly out and a ground out to end the inning.
The game remained 1-0 until the Drillers added a pair of unearned runs in the top of the eighth off Naturals reliever Ryan Dennick. With one out, Kiel Roling reached on an error, and after Davis struck out, Torres walked. Both runners raced home when Mike Mitchell followed with a triple to right-center field that gave Tulsa a three-run lead.
The Naturals finally ended the shutout in the bottom of the ninth, and nearly added more. Singles by Mario Lisson and Ryan Jenkins off reliever Mike Marbry put runners at first and second with one out. Marbry retired Michael Liberto on strikes, but Yem Prades singled to scored Lisson and cut the lead to only two runs.
Mike Solbach, who has not allowed a run this season for Tulsa, came on for Marbry and ended the game by retiring Whit Merrifield on a fly ball to left. For Solbach, it was his second Double A save of the season.
Offensively, Davis led a trio of Drillers with two hits each. Cory Dickerson and Angelys Nina also picked up two hits.
Nolan Arenado, who on Sunday was named the Texas League's Player of the Month for August by the Topps Trading Card Company, was held hitless in the game.
In Monday's regular season finale at Arvest Ballpark, Dan Houston (9-10, 3.80 ERA) will take the mound for Tulsa against Sugar Ray Marimon (3-5, 4.16 ERA) of Northwest Arkansas. Starting time is scheduled for 1:00PM in Springdale.