Even though it is late in the season, the East Texas Pump Jacks turned Friday into a night of firsts.
Joey Latulippe smashed his first home run of the season, Dusty Ross moved into the top spot in the TCL single-season saves list, and the Pump Jacks reclaimed sole possession of first place with their 7-4 victory at the Alexandria Aces.
The win erased the memory of the Pump Jacks’ previous game, a 3-2 loss to the Aces on Monday in which East Texas led, 2-1, in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Ross, who was tied with Stephen Tromblee of the Texas Tomcats with nine saves in 2010, entered Friday’s contest with two out in the bottom of the eighth and the Pump Jacks nursing a three-run advantage. With two runners on the basepaths and one run already scored in the frame, Ross struck out Aces third baseman Judd Edwards on three pitches and proceeded to whiff two more in a scoreless ninth.
That performance earned Ross his 10th save of the summer, passing Tromblee, his 2009 East Texas teammate, and previous record holders Randall Taylor of the 2006 McKinney Marshals and Dustin Rasco, who played for the Brazos Valley Bombers in 2008.
The first grabbed the lead with seven unanswered runs over three innings after falling behind, 1-0, in the first.
Aaron McCain and Bryan Peters led off the second inning with singles, and one out later Michael Haynes bounced one up the middle to plate McCain and even the score.
Two quick outs opened the top of the third inning, but Zac Fisher banged a shot off the center field wall. Fisher moved to third when a pitch to McCain hit the dirt and squirted away from the catcher. When the Aces backstop tried to catch Fisher at third base, his throw sailed into left field to allow Fisher to score.
McCain drew a walk, followed by a Peters grounder that handcuffed the shortstop for an error. Latulippe scoffed at a strike before getting a pitch he liked, launching it far over the left field wall. Suddenly, the Pump Jacks had a 5-1 lead.
More of the same opened the fourth inning, as Jesse Santo blooped a single to right field and Blake Ellender walked. Both runners advanced on a passed ball, allowing Lee Orr to drive in Santo with a sacrifice fly to left field. One out later, Fisher singled past a diving first baseman to jump back on top of the TCL RBI leaderboard with 24.
The Aces scored twice in the fifth inning before the run in the eighth, but they wouldn’t come within three runs.
East Texas pitchers Khris Tate, Tyler Mack, Chase Adams and Ross combined to fan eight Alexandria hitters while allowing just four hits. The pitching benefitted from four double plays, including an unassisted twin killing turned by Fisher in the second inning on a line drive to first with the runner already heading for second.
With the victory, the Pump Jacks move one-half game ahead of the idle Brazos Valley Bombers in a tight battle for the second-half division title. The Jacks have nine games remaining and the Bombers have eight to play in the second half. The two will meet for their final regular season contest on Saturday night in Bryan.
East Texas is in an excellent position to secure at least a wild card berth in the postseason. The Pump Jacks hold an eight-game cushion in the race for one of two wild card spots if the division title doesn’t come to fruition.
The Jacks are aiming for their third straight appearance in the TCL playoffs since joining the league in 2008.
Sunday night, the Pump Jacks return home to host Alexandria at historic Driller Park for the final theGOspot.com Deal of the Week of the regular season. To mark the occasion, theGOspot.com and the Jacks are offering their best deal of the season: Kids can attend the game for FREE. Yes, we’ll say it again: FOR FREE!
All children 12 years of age and under may receive a free ticket for the Pump Jacks game Sunday night. Simply visit theGOspot.com and download your coupon for a free ticket. To receive your free children’s ticket, present the coupon at the Pump Jacks office at 1100 Stone Road, Suite 120, in Kilgore, or at the ticket office at historic Driller Park prior to Sunday’s game.
Next week will also see the Pump Jacks open the gates for a doubleheader on Thirsty Thursday (August 5) before the fifth and final Fireworks Friday of the season on August 6. And look for a special announcement soon about Fan Appreciation Night!
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.