TULSA -- The Arkansas Travelers' season ended on Sunday with a 5-3 defeat to the Tulsa Drillers in the final game of the Texas League North Division Championship Series.
Arkansas (71-68) took the opening game, 5-4, on Wednesday at home before falling, 6-0, in the second game. Tulsa (74-65) hosted the final three games of the series. The Travelers took a 2-1 series lead on Friday with a 4-3 road win before successive 5-3 defeats on Saturday and Sunday.
Catcher Joseph Odom smoked a base hit past the Tulsa third baseman in the opening game to score first baseman Joey Curletta and center fielder Kyle Lewis with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Arkansas had the early lead thanks to home runs by Lewis and right fielder Eric Filia, but Tulsa took the lead in the eighth inning on a two-run home run by Keibert Ruiz, ranked the No. 37 best prospect in baseball.
The Arkansas bullpen was pressed into extended duty after starter Williams Perez left the game in the second inning after he was struck by a line drive on his pitching arm. Four relievers covered the final 7 1/3 innings. Wyatt Mills worked a scoreless ninth inning to earn the win.
Tulsa left-hander Ben Holmes held the Travelers to one hit in 6 2/3 innings on Thursday. He struck out eight batters to four walks. Andre Scrubb and Shea Spitzbarth combined to record the final seven outs, holding Arkansas to four hits in the game.
Tulsa scored in each of the first three innings to build an early lead. Ruiz had three hits for the second straight game, while Cael Brockmeyer and Jacob Scavuzzo each hit home runs.
Arkansas' other win also required late-game heroicson Friday. Odom hit a tie-breaking home run in the top of the ninth inning off of the same pitcher, Layne Somsen, as his game-winning hit on Wednesday. The Travelers took the lead on three different occasions with Filia, Beau Amaral and Odom supplying the go-ahead hits.
Starter Chris Mazza limited the Drillers to just two runs in six-plus innings. David McKay picked up the win after pitching the seventh and eighth innings, while Matt Festa earned the save, working around a leadoff double in the ninth.
Tulsa took control of the series in the eighth inning of the fourth game on Saturday. Arkansas tied the game in the op of the inning on a two-out, two-run single from Lewis.
Gavin Lux and Drew Jackson hit doubles on consecutive pitches to put Tulsa right back on top in the bottom half. Three batters later, after an infield hit by Peters, Scavuzzo doubled to score a pair of runs and pad the lead.
Odom launched a home run in the ninth inning, but Arkansas was unable to draw level again.
Perez returned from his injury to start the fifth game on Sunday, but he surrendered four hits in five innings. He was 6-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 13 starts for Arkansas in the regular season.
Tulsa starter Mitchell White held the Travelers to two hits and two walks in the first seven innings. Arkansas made a late push, scoring twice in the eighth inning and once more in the ninth.
Arkansas started to rally against the Drillers bullpen. Chuck Taylor and Filia hit consecutive homers with two outs in the eighth inning.
A double play erased a leadoff hit in the ninth inning before Chris Mariscal singled and advanced to second base. Odom continued to star in the series with a double to score Mariscal. He was 4-for-4 with two home runs, a double and five RBIs in the ninth inning during the series.
The game ended with the tying run at the plate. Somsen was able to secure the final out with a strikeout and earn the save for Tulsa.
The Drillers advanced to the Texas League final to face the San Antonio Missions (71-67). Corpus Christi (82-56) led the Texas League and the South division throughout the season.
The Hooks took a 2-0 lead in the first two games of their series at home on Wednesday and Thursday. The Missions survived, 9-8, in the third game after it was suspended on Friday to be completed on Saturday.
San Antonio took the fourth game, 3-1, at home before taking the final game, 8-1, at Corpus Christi. The Missions finished 1.5 games behind the Hooks in the first half of the season, 42-28 to 42-26, but their 29-39 record over the second half was seventh out of eight teams in the Texas League and worst of the South division.
This is the last season for the Missions in the Texas League. They will be replaced in 2019 by an unnamed team in Amarillo.Sports on 09/11/2018
Print Headline: Travelers' season ends in Tulsa