Going into Monday, the entire Texas Collegiate League was separated by only two games.
The East Texas Pump Jacks did their best to clear up the clutter.
The Pump Jacks defeated the Alexandria Aces, 6-2, at historic Driller Park Monday night, in the process breaking a first-place tie with the Victoria Generals.
The Jacks hustled to a 4-0 lead over the visiting Aces, then traded runs late for the final margin. Meanwhile, the Generals were shut out, 1-0, in their visit to Brazos Valley against the Bombers. With the win, the Pump Jacks opened a one-game lead over the Generals, who posted the best record in the regular season last year.
East Texas got going early, with Matt Carvutto leading off the second inning with a single. Aces pitcher Josh Branstetter tried to pick the runner off first base, but the ball flew down the right field line. Carvutto aggressively moved to third base on the throwing error. The Jacks’ right fielder then scored the first run of the game on Abel Gonzales’ groundout.
Carvutto scored the Jacks’ second run as well. He singled with one out in the fourth inning, moved to second base on a throwing error, and scored on a Luke Valerius single.
While the offense was churning, Khris Tate was dominating on the mound. Tate struck out seven Aces and surrendered two hits in six innings of work to earn his first victory of the season. The Carthage native didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the fifth inning. It was the fourth time in the last six games a Pump Jacks starter took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Tate allowed a runner as far as second base only once, when Brian Dillon walked with one out in the third inning and stole second base. Tate struck out Matt Holsman to strand Dillon at second.
The Pump Jack wheels turned in another run in the fifth inning. With one away, Blake Ellender walked and easily stole second. Head Coach Ben Taylor put on a hit-and-run, and Jarid Scarafiotti hit a grounder to second base. While Hoilsman made the routine throw to first, Ellender never hesitated in rounding third and heading for home. The speedy Ellender beat the throw home to give the Jacks a 3-0 lead.
Lee Orr, making his first appearance with the Pump Jacks, stepped up as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and was promptly hit by a pitch. A 40th-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds who led McNeese State with 17 home runs this spring, Orr proved he can also contribute on the basepaths. He stole second, then took third when the throw by Aces catcher Kyle Feazell skipped into center field. Center fielder Shane Ardoin’s throw to third sailed into the Aces’ dugout, allowing Orr to walk home with the Jacks’ fourth run.
The Aces got on the board in the top of the eighth, with Holsman walking and stealing second, moving to third on a groundout and coming home on a single.
Their lead now at 4-1, the Pump Jacks opened it back up again in the bottom frame. Zac Fisher singled to left and went to second on an error. Carvutto crushed a booming double to left-center field, easily scoring Fisher. Russell LaFleur pinch-ran and stole third base, and Orr popped one up to very shallow right field. The speedy LaFleur tagged up and slid across the plate just ahead of the throw, giving Orr both an RBI and a run scored without an official at-bat for the night.
Alexandria added their final tally in the top of the ninth with a single, two stolen bases, and a sacrifice fly.
The Pump Jacks welcome Victoria back to East Texas on Tuesday for another Pump Jacks Dollar Day. On Tuesday, one dollar will get you a regular hot dog, a regular soft drink, or a popcorn, all night long!
After a pair of games on the road and an off-day, the Jacks will return home again on Saturday, June 19, with a giveaway night to kick off a stretch of seven home games in eight days.
With more players arriving daily, the Pump Jacks are still seeking several families to host players. Hosting a player is a great experience that forges a lifelong bond with a young man, a relationship that transcends the game of baseball. Host families also receive free season tickets for every member of their household. If you’re interested in finding out more about the host family program, please contact the Pump Jacks at (903) 218-GO ET or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To follow all Pump Jacks news, including player awards, game stories and promotions, log on to the team’s official Website at www.pumpjacksbaseball.com.