SPRINGDALE -- What a difference a day makes.
Tulsa erupted for a 12-2 win over Northwest Arkansas on Saturday night behind a nine-run inning in front of 4,385 at Arvest Ballpark.
Northwest Arkansas (6-21 second half, 41-56 overall) can still win the series with a win today after taking the first two games Thursday and Friday.
The Naturals kept Tulsa's potent offense completely in check Friday, allowing the Drillers just two hits in a 3-0 win.
Saturday was completely different.
Tulsa (20-8, 54-44) scored a run in the first and second innings before scoring nine runs in the third inning.
In the third inning, the Drillers needed just two singles, a double and a homer to put up nine runs. Tulsa took advantage of two errors by the Naturals, who also hit two Drillers batters, walked another in the inning and threw a wild pitch.
Mike Ahmed drove in two with a double, and Luke Raley clubbed a three-run homer to cap the scoring in the inning.
Eight of the runs were earned as Tulsa took an 11-0 lead after three innings.
Tulsa added another run in the fourth inning, highlighted by a triple by D.J. Peters, who slugged a solo homer to lead off the second inning, for a team cycle over the two innings.
Tony Gonsolin was the happy recipient of the run support and went six innings to earn the win for the Drillers.
"Early on, I had pretty good fastball command and curveball, so I just tried to throw strikes and fill up the zone," Gonsolin said.
Gonsolin spent the first two years in the minors solely as a relief pitcher with all 61 of his appearances in 2016 and 2017 out of the bullpen.
"Early in spring training the farm director and pitching coordinator came to me and asked me what I thought about it," Gonsolin said. "I was all for it, just trying to use all my pitches. They were like, 'Let's transition you and get you in that role and start building you up as soon as we can.' That started the process."
This year, he converted to a starter and is now 2-0 in two starts on the Double-A level with both of his wins in Arkansas after his spending a big part of the last two years at Rancho Cucamonga in California.
"The biggest adjustment is the humidity," Gonsolin said. "It's a huge change from Rancho, the dry heat compared to the humidity. It's a huge change. Everything is wet, just trying to stay as dry as I can."
Saturday was his 19th start of the season in all. He threw 59 of his 82 pitches for strikes, allowed five hits, two earned runs, walked one and struck out seven.
"I just tried to build up my body physically to be able to maintain what I have throughout a longer period into the game rather than just go out one inning," Gonsolin said. "The mindset as well, not just blowing it out one inning and knowing that I have to go more than one and throw as long as I can to keep my team in the game."
Tulsa banged out 15 hits with Raley contributing two singles and a homer, and Will Smith, Jacob Scavuzzo, Peters, Ahmed and Tyler Goeddel all with two hits each.
• Tulsa leads the Texas League in homers, total bases and slugging percentage and added to that with two homers and 25 total bases on Saturday.
• The nine runs allowed by the Naturals in the third inning Saturday is the most by an opponent in an inning this season, exceeding the seven scored by Tulsa in the bottom of the fourth inning May 14.
• Tulsa Drillers hitting coach Terrmel Sledge knocked in the final run in Montreal Expos history with a first-inning single and had the final hit in franchise history with an eighth-inning single Oct. 3, 2004, before the franchise moved the next season to Washington, where Sledge also hit the first home run in the season opener for the Nationals on April 4, 2005, in the sixth inning.
On Deck: The Naturals wrap up the four-game home series against Tulsa with Northwest Arkansas starting Emilio Ogando (5-6, 6.69) and the Drillers going with Mitchell White (2-4, 5.67). Ogando is making his sixth start of the season against Tulsa and 11th in his career. Ogando has a 6.86 earned run average in his career against Tulsa but 10.06 this season. White is 2-0, for his only two wins of the season, against Northwest Arkansas this season in three starts but has given up eight earned runs in 16 2/3 innings or work.
Tonight's Promotion: Sunday is First Responder's Day sponsored by Slim Chickens with all first responders being honored and recognized as well as receiving four complimentary Super Premium seats with proof of employment. Kids also eat free on Family Sunday courtesy of Tyson Foods, Ball Park Buns, Mondelez International and Coca-Cola. The first 100 kids will receive complimentary Fire Hats courtesy of Keep Kids Fire Safe Foundation with Molly the Fire Safety Dog delivering the first pitch. Mercy Kids will sponsor post-game activities which features running the bases. The NWA Food Bank will host a food drive, beginning on Sunday and going through July 25 with fans receiving buy one, get one free tickets for any seating level if they bring a canned food or nonperishable item to the Arvest Ballpark Box Office, maximum of five per transaction.
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On The Web: www.nwanaturals.com
Sports on 07/22/2018
Print Headline: Tulas dominates thanks to nine-run third inning