After a nine-inning game on Thursday night that lasted over three and a half hours, the Pump Jacks faced a rematch with the Victoria Generals at historic Driller Park, with the potential for another barnburner.
Enter Kyle Kubat (the sixth-leading pitcher in the Texas Collegiate League in terms of ERA coming into the game) and Jordan Pacheco (the TCL leader in ERA). What ensued was a pitcher’s duel, and Kubat out-pitched Pacheco as the Pump Jacks shut out the Generals 3-0 on Friday night for their seventh straight victory overall and ninth in a row to begin the summer at home.
For the first four innings, neither offense could make much solid contact against the pitcher for the opposing team. Pacheco allowed just three baserunners and threw only 39 pitches in the first four frames, while Kubat settled down after a rally was snuffed out in the top of the first. The southpaw from Nebraska surrendered just two baserunners in innings two through four for the Jacks, and sent down the Generals in order for the second time in the game in the top of the fifth.
Tyler Girouard led off the bottom of the fifth with a slow roller up the third baseline, beating the ball to first base for an infield single. He then advanced to second on the play as the throw from Victoria third baseman Chad Kruse was high. With Blair DeBord batting, a passed ball, the third of the two-game series by the Generals’ catchers, advanced Girouard to third. Taylor Murphy then smacked the third pitch he saw from Pacheco into center field for a sacrifice fly, scoring Girouard and giving the Pump Jacks the lead 1-0.
Pacheco remained in the game for the Generals, and the Pump Jacks got to him again in the seventh inning. After a flyout began the frame, Girouard lashed a single up the middle for his second consecutive hit. DeBord then hit a 2-1 fastball from Pacheco to deep right field. Generals right fielder Trent Wagner raced back on the ball towards the wall, but was unable to come up with the ball as DeBord cruised into second with a double, putting runners on second and third.
After a questionable third strike call by the home plate umpire to Murphy became the second out of the inning,Logan Davis came through in the clutch,slapping a ball up the middle past Pacheco. Second baseman Alex Klonowski got to the ball with his momentum taking him towards left field and tried to get the speedy Davis at first to end the inning. But his throw was low, and Davis beat it out for a hit. Girouard scored easily on the play, and a hustling DeBord was safe on a play at the plate, extending the East Texas lead to 3-0.
That was all the Pump Jacks needed, as Kubat threw 109 pitches on the sticky evening at Driller Park and gave up no runs and just six hits, including only four after the long first inning, while striking out six and walking none. After the opening frame, only one batter reached third base in the rest of Kubat’s outing. He was relieved by Jason Jester in the eighth inning, and the flamethrower was dominant as usual, working the final two innings, striking out two and earning his TCL-leading seventh save of the summer.
Girouard finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Davis went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. He now has at least one RBI in six of his last seven games, with nine RBIs in total during that span.
Kubat earned his third win of the season for the Pump Jacks against no losses while lowering his ERA to an impressive 1.40 to complete the two-game sweep. Pacheco (3-1) took the loss for the Generals.
The Pump Jacks are now 15-3 on the season, their best start ever in the TCL, and 9-0 at Driller Park in 2012. They’ll now take their talents on the road, facing the second-place Brazos Valley Bombers on Saturday night. The Jacks have a two and a half game lead over the Bombers entering the game with Brazos Valley’s winning in Alexandria against the Aces on Friday night.
After that, East Texas will face The Woodlands Strykers in a two-game set on Sunday and Monday nights, also on the road. The Pump Jacks return to Driller Park on Wednesday night against the aforementioned Alexandria Aces.
First pitch for all games is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Keep up with the Pump Jacks’ fifth anniversary season on www.pumpjacksbaseball.com. Join the conversation and interact with other members of Pump Jacks Nation by visiting the Jacks on Facebook and Twitter.