The heart of the East Texas batting order is quickly becoming a menace to the rest of the Texas Collegiate League… much to the chagrin of the North Texas Copperheads Saturday night.
The Pump Jacks bolted to leads on the strength of home runs from Lee Orr and Abel Gonzales, then held on in the ninth inning for a 3-2 victory over the Copperheads at historic Driller Park.
The two teams dueled for five scoreless innings before Orr finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Facing an 0-2 count, the former Freshman All-American crushed the North Texas delivery into the trees beyond the left field fence for a solo home run. The round-tripper was Orr’s third on the season, tops in the league, but more importantly it gave the Jacks a 1-0 lead.
The advantage proved to be short-lived. The Copperheads were able to squeeze a run across to tie the game after East Texas starting pitcher Kyle Martin had staved off repeated threats throughout the game. Garrett Methvin came on in relief to end the inning and keep the score knotted at one apiece.
That set the stage for Gonzales’ heroics. The Rice product hadn’t even started the game; he came on in the fifth inning after Jarid Scarafiotti bowed out with a gash on his forearm while stealing second.
In the home half of the seventh, Michael Haynes drew a one-out walk. After a popout, Gonzales stepped to the plate for the first time in the game. He proceeded to launch the ball over the right field fence for a two-run homer, giving the Jacks a 3-1 lead.
To say the home run was unexpected would be an understatement. Gonzales, a solid contributor and one of three Pump Jacks who returned from the 2009 roster, batted .314 last summer but had only three extra-base hits on the season – all doubles. In fact, in three seasons at Rice and two prior summer collegiate slates, Saturday’s home run was the first of Gonzales’ collegiate career.
It was then up to the Pump Jacks’ bullpen to make the lead hold up. Methvin set the Copperheads down in order in the eighth frame. He opened the ninth with a walk, so head coach Ben Taylor opted to go with another fresh arm, Andy Steinmetz, to finish out the contest. Four hitters and one out later, a wild pitch with the bases loaded gave the Copperheads their second run and cut the lead to one. Steinmetz induced a grounder to Haynes at second, who threw home to catch the North Texas runner in a rundown. An easy groundout put the finishing touches on the 3-2 win.
The victory extended the Jacks’ win streak to three and improved their record to 12-8 on the season. They move into second place in the TCL, tied with the Victoria Generals and one game behind the Brazos Valley Bombers. The Jacks have five games remaining before the TCL declares a first-half division champion, who earns an automatic berth in the playoffs.
Methvin (3-1) picked up the win after Martin worked in and out of jams all night. Martin twice allowed runners on second and third before ending threats, and two more innings ended with ground-ball double-plays. He finished the night with just one earned run in 6.2 innings, allowing seven hits and striking out six.
At plate, Orr led East Texas with a 2-for-4 evening. The 40th round selection by the Cincinnati Reds now leads the league with a .438 average and three homers, despite missing the season’s first week of play.
The Jacks head to Weimar for a pair of games against the Texas Tomcats, then they enjoy a well-deserved off-day.
East Texas fans will welcome the Jacks back to historic Driller Park on Wednesday when they open a two-game set against the Tomcats with Boudain Wednesday presented by Hebert’s Specialty Meats. Pump Jacks Nation can enjoy Boudain, the concessions stand’s newest delicacy, for just $2 every Wednesday.
The Pump Jacks close out the two-game set with the Tomcats on Thursday with the return of Thirsty Thursday presented by 96X. Jacks fans can beat the heat with $1 draft beers and 50-cent soft drinks at the park. That’s right, cheap drinks and beers for just a buck!
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!
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 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.