Zac Fisher had been mired in a slump. In his last six games, Fisher had two hits in 20 at-bats. So what did he do in a sixth-inning plate appearance in a scoreless second game of a doubleheader Friday night?
Fisher swung for the fences. And it worked.
Fisher’s second home run of the season gave the East Texas Pump Jacks a one-run lead over the visiting Texas Tomcats and staved off extra innings. To the delight of the Pump Jacks faithful, his homer proved to be the decisive run in a 1-0 victory, which meant Friday night’s finale would be coming soon: Fireworks.
Not that Fisher’s gamble inspired confidence at first. The New Mexico State freshman was 0-for-2 in the game and hitless in five at-bats on the night. He whiffed on two violent swings, but the 1-2 pitch was right in his wheelhouse. His soaring drive cleared the right-field fence with room to spare, drawing a roar from the crowd and celebrations from his teammates.
The victory clinched a sweep of the doubleheader, which the Pump Jacks opened with a 2-0 win. But like the nightcap, the first game was no sure thing, either.
Starting pitcher Jordan Nicholson got off to a rocky start in game one, allowing two singles and a walk in the first inning. He worked out of the jam by inducing a tailor-made 6-4-3 double-play, and the Tomcats didn’t threaten again in his five innings.
Alex Fuselier reached on a leadoff walk in the home half of the first, but he was stranded at third base.
The Jacks managed to score the only two runs of the game in the third inning – and without the benefit of a base hit. Blake Brown drew a walk to lead off the third inning, followed by a curveball that hit Jarid Scarafiotti. Fuselier took his second base on balls, loading the bases with nobody out.
Russell LaFleur grounded out to the second baseman, bringing home Brown for the first run of the contest. The lead was extended to two on another groundout to second, this time off Fisher’s bat.
The two runs were enough for Nicholson and Dusty Ross, who K’d four in finishing off the final two innings for his team-leading fourth save.
Nicholson (3-0) earned the victory by allowing three hits and two walks while striking out five. He struck out the side in the second inning and retired the side in order in the fifth.
Ironically, the Pump Jacks didn’t stroke a safety all game. The only runners allowed by Tomcats starter Zach Oates were the three walks and one hit-by-pitch, so Oates was saddled with the loss while pitching a no-hitter. The no-no was just the second no-hitter in TCL history, and the first also has a connection to the Jacks. Flint native Clint Helms tossed a no-hitter in 2007 when he was pitching for the Brazos Valley Bombers. Helms was the starting for the Pump Jacks for their first-ever game in 2008. Like Oates, Helms’ no-hitter was a seven-inning affair as part of a doubleheader.
It wasn’t until the second inning of the second game that the Pump Jacks posted their first hit Friday. Lee Orr, who didn’t play the first game, smoked a single in the second, part of a 3-for-3 performance with two stolen bases.
Chris Larsen (1-1) replaced starter Khris Tate early in the second contest and threw four shutout innings, scattering three hits and striking out five Tomcats.
Pump Jack fans, enjoying a second straight night of discounted drinks and anticipating the fireworks display, started getting antsy and itching for a run. That’s when Fisher stepped up and hit his homer to put the Jacks up 1-0.
Staked to a lead, Larsen started the seventh inning with a ground ball, but the play was muffed and the runner reached base. A sacrifice bunt advanced the runner, and the next hitter singled to right field. The runner started for third and rounded the bag, but the threat of Orr’s cannon arm in right forced the coach to hold the runner.
Brad Kottman was brought in and immediately picked the runner off first base for the second out of the inning. Kottman then induced a grounder to first baseman Abel Gonzales to preserve the 1-0 victory.
With the sweep, the Pump Jacks jumped ahead of the Tomcats in the TCL standings at 11-8. The Jacks also moved to within one game of first place with six games remaining in the season’s first half. The team in first place when the first half closes on July 3 earns an automatic berth in the TCL playoffs.
East Texas closes out the homestand on Saturday with another Saturday Giveaway. Join the Jacks as they face the defending TCL champion North Texas Copperheads, but come early for your chance to walk away with some valuable gear.
Pump Jacks Nation is now on Facebook! Visit the East Texas Pump Jacks official team page on Facebook to follow all the news and gossip about the Pump Jacks, post your thoughts on the Jacks 2010 season, upload photos, and interact with other fans. Plus, the Jacks will post specials and discounts just for the Facebook community on the page! Click the link on the left side of the Pump Jacks web site or at the top of every news article on the site, and join Pump Jacks Nation on Facebook!
The Pump Jacks are still seeking 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 email@example.com.
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.