The Drillers entered Saturday night's game four of the North Division Playoffs on the brink of elimination, trailing the Springfield Cardinals 2 games to 1. With their backs against the wall, Tulsa used timely hitting and a great pitching performance to earn the 4-1 victory and force a series deciding game five on Sunday afternoon.
The Drillers were able to stake their starter Brandon Hynick to an early lead when they scored 3 runs in the top of the second. A fielding error by Greg Garcia allowed Lars Davis to reach base safely with one out. Chris Pettit made the error hurt when he blasted a Scott Gorgen offering over the right field wall. The 2-run homer was Pettit's first of the postseason and fourth overall with the Drillers. Tim Torres followed with a homerun of his own to right field that extended the Tulsa lead to 3-0.
Xavier Scruggs cut the deficit to 3-1 when he delivered a solo shot in the bottom of the second inning. The towering drive nearly cleared the grass berm behind the left field fence.
Both teams' starting pitchers settled in and found their rhythm after the second inning. Gorgen retired 9 of the last 11 hitters he faced and allowed only 2 scattered hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth.
Hynick matched Gorgen pitch for pitch and cruised through the next few innings. He ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth, allowing three singles, but enticed a big double play to escape without any damage. He earned his first postseason win with a pitching line of 6 innings, 6 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts.
The Drillers added an important insurance run in the top of the seventh inning thanks to a clutch base hit by Corey Dickerson. Torres led off the inning with a single and then stole second base. With one out, Dickerson lined a ball into centerfield and Torres just slid in before an Audry Perez tag at home to give Tulsa a 4-1 lead.
Zach Simons relieved Hynick and threw two brilliant innings to keep the Drillers lead at 3 runs. His performance was backed up by Coty Woods who locked down the win for Tulsa while earning his first save of the postseason.
The two teams will face off on Sunday afternoon in a do-or-die game five at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri. The winner will advance to play Frisco in the Texas League Championship Series next week. TL All-Star Game starter Dan Houston (10-10, 3.74 ERA) will try to lead the Drillers past Boone Whiting (0-0, 1.50 ERA) and the Cards. First pitch is scheduled for 2:08PM.