With the win the Tulsa Drillers moved to within one win of clinching the Texas League's first half North Division title and the hopes of Springfield Cardinal fans looking for their first title ever began to fade.
The Drillers got two home runs out of Joe Koshansky and an amazing effort out of their bullpen for their second straight win, as they moved their first-half record to 40-27, two full games ahead of Springfield.
Springfield starter Jordan Pals gave up three home runs over six innings, as the Drillers played long-ball on Thursday night, swatting a total of four homers on the evening. Joe Koshansky's league-leading 18th home run, a two-run blast in the second, put Tulsa up 2-0. Joe Gaetti and Chris Iannetta both had solo homers in the third, as the Drillers went up 4-0.
Tulsa starter Enmanuel Ulloa had to leave the game after what appeared to be a groin injury, suffered while running to first base in the top of the second inning. Ulloa was replaced on the hill by reliever Alberto Arias, who turned in a clutch performance. Arias gave up a pair of runs with two outs in the third, but was solid the rest of the way.
Reid Gorecki's solo homer to left field, his team-leading 14th of the year, put Springfield on the board at 4-1. Juan Richardson and Rico Washington followed with back-to-back doubles, making it 4-2 as Washington collected his team-leading 55th RBI of the year.
Arias (5-2) would settle down though, allowing just two base runners over the next three innings. He allowed just two runs on four hits over five relief innings.
The rest of the Tulsa bullpen kept Springfield quiet, as Judd Songster and Josh Newman combined to go the final three innings of scoreless relief.
Tulsa added to their lead in the sixth, getting their final run against Pals in the sixth, as Ian Stewart's double brought home Joe Gaetti, making it 5-2. Pals (5-2) gave up five runs over six innings, taking just his second defeat of the year.
Joe Koshansky's second of the night and 19th of the year, a solo home run off Kevin Ool in the seventh, rounded out the scoring at 6-2.
With the loss, Springfield (37-28) is now forced to win all three remaining games in the three-game series, in order to win the first half North Division title. Chris Lambert (5-5) will go for the Redbirds on Friday night against Tulsa right-hander Steven Register (1-4).
Chris Lambert, selected in the first round of the June, 2004 First-Year Player Draft, has been ranked by the Birdhouse Staff at www.thestlcardinals.com, as the Cardinals #3 prospect. The Springfield club will need Lambert to be on his game Friday night, for them to still have a chance for the first half title.
Everyone at Friday's game will receive a free coupon for a Diet Coke thanks to Hardee's. Friday also means another AM Pyrotechnics Friday Night Fireworks Display. Game time from Hammons Field on Friday is 7:10pm. Come be a part of Springfield Cardinals' Pennant Fever on Friday night and support the team as they fight for the North Division First Half Title! Tickets are available for Friday's action by calling (417) 863-2143 or online at www.springfieldcardinals.com.