Matt Carvutto has been leading the TCL in batting average most of the season, but as of late he hadn’t gained too many extra bases.
That all changed in a hurry Sunday night.
Carvutto hit his first home run of the season and later doubled in the tying run as his East Texas Pump Jacks beat the visiting Alexandria Aces, 5-2, at historic Driller Park.
The win clinched at least a wild card berth in the TCL playoffs the Pump Jacks. The Pump Jacks still lead the race for the second half championship, holding a one game advantage over the Victoria Generals.
The Pump Jacks have now qualified for the postseason in each of their three seasons in East Texas. The playoffs start Tuesday, August 10th. At least one and as many as four playoff games will be played at historic Driller Park.
Carvutto opened the scoring with his first circuit shot of the season, a long drive over the left field wall, in the bottom of the third inning. It was not only the junior outfielder’s first homer as a Pump Jack, it was his first since he was an all-conference performer as a sophomore at Palomar College last spring.
The Aces answered with two runs off Brad Kottman in the top of the fourth inning. Clint Ourso scored the first run, crawling back to the plate after avoiding a sweeping tag by catcher Zac Fisher. Alexandria scored again on Manny Estrada’s double, but further damage was avoided when Fisher nailed Matt Fury at the plate after a fine relay from Brandon Wood to Aaron McCain.
Wood opened the bottom of the fifth with a shot to the right-center field wall for his second double of the season. One out later, Carvutto hit a line drive over the leaping left fielder. Wood scored for the 2-2 tie and Carvutto trotted into second base.
The score remained even into the bottom of the seventh, when Wood led off with a single and steal of second base. He scored on Fisher’s 15th double of the season, keeping the Jacks’ backstop tied atop the league RBI race. Fisher came home on successive pitches to the backstop.
The Pump Jacks finished the scoring in the eighth inning, when Abel Gonzales singled in Jesse Santo, who had doubled to left field.
Carvutto, Wood and Michael Haynes all ended the contest 2-for-4, and Wood also contributed with his glove. The Aggie outfielder ran down a dangerous ball in the gap in the seventh inning, and in the eighth he made a full dive toward the infield to come up with the catch.
Kottman showed he made adjustments from the last time he faced the Aces. On July 26 at Alexandria, Kottman was hit for seven base knocks in six innings while striking out just five batters. Kottman used his changeup Sunday to fool hitters to the tune of ten whiffs in six innings.
The two Aces runs in the fourth reached as a result of walks, and while Kottman did give five free passes, he allowed just three hits.
Chris Larsen took over for the seventh and eighth, striking out two of the seven hitters he faced.
Larsen gave way to TCL single-season saves record holder Dusty Ross for the ninth, and Ross didn’t disappoint. He induced a pop-up and groundout before striking out the final hitter for his 11th save.
The Pump Jacks set a franchise record with their 27th win, surpassing the 26 victories posted last season. East Texas is 13-5 in the second half with just seven games to play.
After taking Monday off, the Pump Jacks travel to Victoria to face the Generals Tuesday. That is one of two games remaining against the Jacks’ nearest contender for the second-half title. Victoria has already clinched a spot in the postseason after capturing the division crown in the first half of the season.
The two-day southern swing will conclude on Wednesday with a visit to Weimar to take on the Texas Tomcats.
The Pump Jacks return home Thursday and Friday with a pair of fan favorites. The Jacks welcome the McKinney Marshals for a doubleheader on Thursday, which will also mark the regular season’s last Thirsty Thursday presented by 96X. For both games, draft beers are just one dollar and regular fountain drinks are a paltry 50 cents. The first game begins at 6:05 pm and the gates open at 5 pm, so beat the heat and bring all your friends for cheap drinks with the Jacks!
Friday marks another regular season finale: the last Fireworks Friday presented by KLTV News. The Jacks will light up the sky for the fifth and final time this regular season, with a very special soundtrack for the event. If you’ve never seen a Pump Jacks fireworks show, this is not to be missed. And if you’ve seen one before, you know how memorable they are… so tell your friends and join us for this special event!
This week, the Jacks will make a special announcement about Fan Appreciation Night. Tickets for the first home playoff game will also go on sale this week.
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.