MATCHUP: Arkansas vs. Tulsa.
TIME: 2:05 p.m.
BROADCAST: KAKC 1300am.
PROBABLE PITCHERS: Arkansas, Dennis Wiseman (0-0); Tulsa,
David Perez (0-0).
PROMOTION: It's Tulsa World Family Day when the Drillers
close out the series with the Arkansas Travelers. Discount
coupons in the Friday and Sunday editions of the Tulsa World
will admit families of up to six persons for $6. There also
will be Tulsa World visors given to the first 500 fans entering
the stadium Sunday.
LEFT-HANDER Pat Smith of the Tulsa Drillers faced Arkansas
with a heavy heart Saturday night.
Smith learned earlier in the day that his aunt, Marie Costello,
had died in Iowa following a long illness.
Then Smith went out to pitch his best game of the season,
allowing only four hits and striking out eight in 6 1/3 innings
as the Drillers nosed out Arkansas 2-1 in a stirring mound
duel with the Travelers' John Ericks before a crowd of 3,525
at Drillers Stadium.
The victory gave the Drillers a 2-1 series lead and a two-game
lead over Arkansas in the Texas League's Eastern Division.
Tulsa is 6-2 for the young season and the Travs, in second
place, are 4-4.
Smith also enjoyed some "perfect" relief from right-handers
Jeff Bronkey and Matt Whiteside, who combined to retire
the last eight Travelers in order.
Smith and Company had to be at their best because the fastballing
Ericks allowed only five hits and struck out 11 Drillers
in seven innings. Reliever Steve Dixon added two more strikeouts
to give the Travs a total of 13.
Smith, who will leave for his aunt's funeral either Sunday
or Monday, lifted his record to 2-0 while Ericks dipped to 0-2.
The margin of victory came on an errant throw by Ericks
which enabled the Drillers to score in the first inning.
Whiteside, in earning his fourth save of the season, retired
the Travs in order with two strikeouts in the ninth.
"If John Ericks pitches the kind of game he pitched tonight,
we'll be alright," said Arkansas manager Joe Pettini. "Ericks
did his job, but the rest of us didn't."
Smith said he thought about his aunt in the third or fourth
inning, but he had to block the sadness out of his mind.
"I had a job to do, so I concentrated on my pitching," he said.
Ericks admitted his wild throw in the first was the difference.
"I've got to stay in there and pitch and keep plugging
along," said Ericks.
Reminded of his strikeouts, Ericks said, "I got lucky."
The Drillers scored without benefit of a hit in the first
inning. David Hulse reached on Ericks' two-base throwing
error, took third as Jon Shave grounded out to the right
side and came home on Rusty Greer's sacrifice fly.
"I wanted to bring that run in any way I could," said
Greer, who had two of Tulsa's five hits.
After surviving a threat on former Oklahoma State star Brad
Beanblossom's double and Mike Ross' soft hit which dropped
between Hulse and shortstop Cris Colon in shallow left in
the first, Smith went on to strike out the next five Travelers,
including the side in the second inning.
"If Arkansas had scored in the first inning, the tempo
of the game might have been different," said Smith. "I
didn't know how many strikeouts I had, but I did know I
was getting them out 1-2-3."
The Drillers scored again in fourth inning as Greer led
off with a double, his first extra-base hit of the season,
took third on John Russell's infield hit and scored on a
fielder's choice play. Russell broke up the potential double
play by taking Beanblossom out of the action on the force play.
Smith had retired 14 straight Travelers before Don Prybylinski
opened the sixth inning with a single to left, then stole
second. After walking Ross to put two Travs aboard, Smith
got John Thomas on a grounder to the mound to end the threat.
Smith lost his shutout bid as Julian Martinez doubled in
John Sellick, who walked. In coaxing Smith's second walk,
Sellick lost control of the bat, which flew into the third-base
stands and against the runway wall.
Martinez' blow forced Smith's exit. Bronkey relieved and
got Tripp Cromer on a grounder to third base and Prybylinski
on a fly to right field.
Tulsa third baseman Jose Oliva saw his seven-game hitting
streak come to an end, but he made a fine defensive play
on Cromer's slowly hit grounder in the seventh with Martinez
in scoring position.
Driller Bits....Texas infield instructor Perry Hill has
arrived for the remainder of the Tulsa homestand. Rusty
Greer, making the move from the outfield to first base,
credited Hill for making the move a "smooth transition."....
Jose Oliva compiled a .407 batting average while getting
at least one hit in each of the Drillers' first seven games.
Five of Oliva's 11 hits have gone for extra bases - four
doubles and a home run.