Today's Game

MATCHUP: Arkansas vs. Tulsa.

TIME: 2:05 p.m.


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.