By Pat Turner
The Missions’ chances of extending their winning streak to four games looked favorable going into the eighth inning.
Despite an early deficit and Tulsa’s constant threats, coupled with a 32-minute rain delay, the Missions’ outlook was still looking bright.
Then, Tulsa threw a dark cloud on Wolff Stadium as the Drillers erupted for five runs to cruise to a 9-6 come-from-behind victory in the opener of the four-game series.
The Drillers, who entered the game batting .302 in its past 10 games, showed the Missions why they’re one of the top hitting teams in Double-A by battering four pitchers for 16 hits. Much of the punishment came from Errol Robinson, who banged out two home runs, and Zach Reks, who turned in a 4 for 4 outing with four RBIs.
The Missions had their moments offensively during a 10-hit showing with much of the success coming from Fernando Tatis Jr., who scored four times and went 3 for 4 with a solo homer, single and double.
Although the bats put San Antonio in a position to win, it didn’t end that way as the Missions were unable to keep pace with Drillers, who started their day by scoring twice in their first at-bat.
Colin Rea, making a rehab start for the Missions, was the victim of Tulsa’s early punch.
Luke Raby sent his second pitch to deep left for a double. After a walk to D.J. Peters, Reks smacked a two-run double to left.
Rea, who pitched for the Missions in 2015, settled in and avoided further damage by retiring seven in a row.
The Missions, however, had a better start by stunning Tulsa starter Mitchell White for three runs in the bottom of the first.
White began the inning by hitting Tatis with a pitch, Josh Naylor chopped a single past shortstop and Ty France launched a towering three-run homer over the right-field wall for a 3-2 lead.
Things could have gotten worse for White. After Austin Allen singled sharply to right, the Drillers’ pitcher got much-needed defensive help as shortstop Errol Robinson’s snag and left fielder Reks’ diving catch stopped the Missions’ rally.
Tulsa struck for a run in the third on Rek’s RBI single and Robinson’s solo blast in the fourth tied the score a 4-4. After Angelo Mora ripped a double to right, Rea’s night ended one out later.
Trevor Megill came in relief to keep the score knotted.
Tulsa had a golden opportunity to move in front during the fifth. With one out, Reks lined a single to right and Tyler Colvin slashed a double to right.
The Missions, however, caught a break when a base-running blunder led to an out at the plate Gettys and Tatis’ relay to Allen.
Center fielder Rob Boykin’s running catch then ended Tulsa’s inning.
The Missions made their threat work in the bottom of the fifth.
Tatis lined a single to left and went to second on a wild pitch. After White walked Naylor, Chad Giordo took over the mount duties and gave up a run-scoring single to France.
The bats were still lively for both teams after the 32-minute rain delay.
After Lake Bachar (0-2) shut down Tulsa, Tatis hammered a double to left and waltzed home on Naylor’s single for a 6-4 debut.
The Drillers escaped further damage after Allen’s double put runners at second and third, before delivering their five-run blow to San Antonio in the eight.
Robinson took Bachar deep and Mora singled before Michael Ahmed drew a walk.
Jason Jester took over the pitching and loaded the bases with a walk to Tyler Goeddel.
Raley brought home the tying run on an infield hit toward second.
Then it got messier for the Missions as Tatis’ error led to two runs. Reks brought home another with a sacrifice fly.