Entering Sunday’s contest between the East Texas Pump Jacks and Brazos Valley Bombers in Bryan, all four of their previous meetings were decided by one run. Three of those games, including both previous matches in Brazos Valley, saw the Bombers come back from multiple-run deficits to beat the Pump Jacks.
East Texas stopped all of those trends Sunday night.
The Jacks use a pair of three-run innings on their way to an 8-0 lead, then staved off another late Bombers’ push to dispatch Brazos Valley, 8-4.
Sunday’s contest, the third straight game between the teams after splitting a pair in Kilgore, saw its first run in the top of the third inning. Brandon Wood led off with a single and stole second base before Bryan Peters sacrificed him to third. Alex Fuselier dumped a double into the left-center field gap, easily scoring Wood for a 1-0 lead.
The score stayed that way until the top of the fifth inning. Michael Haynes opened the frame with a single, followed by perfectly executed bunt singles from Wood and Peters to load the bases with none away. Fuselier and Russell LaFleur each drove in a run with singles to the left side. One out later, Zac Fisher grounded to the second baseman. LaFleur pulled a ballet move to evade the tag and reach second base safely while Fisher was thrown out at first. The groundout scored Peters for the third run of the inning. It was Fisher’s TCL-leading 20th RBI of the season and it staked the Jacks to a 4-0 lead.
Haynes started another rally in the sixth with a double to right field. With Fuselier at the plate, head coach Ben Taylor put on a hit-and-run, and it worked to perfection. Haynes sped toward third base with the pitch, which forced the third baseman to cover the bag. Fuselier lined the ball through the spot vacated by the fielder, which allowed Haynes to score easily and open a 5-0 advantage.
In the meantime, Brad Kottman was dominating the Bombers’ hitters. The Brown University lefty, who came within two outs of a no-hitter in the first week of the season, pitched six strong innings for the victory. He allowed five singles and a walk and struck out eight, including multiple K’s in the second and sixth innings.
Kottman also benefitted from a great defensive play in the third inning. With one out and a runner at first base, Lee Orr made a diving catch of a ball slicing into right-center field. The play was reminiscent of a diving stab he made in Saturday night’s game at historic Driller Park.
Kottman also used his devastating pickoff move to great advantage. After allowing a leadoff single in the sixth inning, Kottman stepped off and caught Greg Olson leaning the wrong way. Olson was erased after a short rundown. Multiple times in 2010 Kottman has picked runners off—including once in the TCL All-Star Game last Monday.
The Pump Jacks continued their offensive barrage with three insurance runs in the seventh inning. Aaron McCain and Abel Gonzales drew one-out walks, and Haynes was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Wood flew out deep to right to score McCain, which brought Peters to the plate. The newest Jack didn’t disappoint, launching a ball to the wall in left for a two-run double.
The three runs pushed the lead to 8-0, which proved to be valuable insurance. The Bombers scored four times in the seventh, all with two out, and threatened more with the bases loaded. Dusty Ross came on to quell the threat in one pitch, inducing a harmless grounder to shortstop.
Ross struck out the side in the eighth frame before pitching a scoreless ninth for his seventh save.
Fuselier led the Jacks’ 11-hit attack, going 3-for-4 with three RBI. Haynes, Wood, and Peters each contributed a pair of hits, with Haynes adding three runs for the second night in a row.
The win improves the Jacks to 2-1 in the second half, a half-game out of first. For the season, East Texas is 16-12 and has the inside track for one of two wild card positions for the playoffs.
The Pump Jacks travel to Weimar to face the Texas Tomcats on Monday.
After a day off, the Pump Jacks return to East Texas on Wednesday against the Bombers for the return of Boudain Wednesday presented by Hebert’s Specialty Meats. Fans can enjoy the spice of boudain sausage for just $2 each. The next night is another Thirsty Thursday presented by 96X. Cheer on the Jacks against the North Texas Copperheads while enjoying draft beers for one dollar and regular soft drinks for just 50 cents!
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!
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.