After washing out a two-game series with the Victoria Generals, the East Texas Pump Jacks looked to get back on track Thursday night against the visiting Coppell Copperheads at historic Driller Park.
The Copperheads had other ideas.
Coppell scored twice in the seventh inning to steal a 2-0 decision from the Pump Jacks. The loss cost East Texas a chance to climb closer to the idle Generals, who now hold a 2.5-game lead over the second place Jacks.
The first six innings of the contest were an unconventional pitchers duel between the Pump Jacks’ Matt Click and Coppell’s Brandon Parrent. Neither hurler allowed a run through six innings, and the pair allowed a total of five hits over that span.
That’s not to say that it was smooth sailing, however. Click walked the first three batters he faced in the first inning, but wiggled out of the jam. In the bottom of the second, Kevin Hussey drew a two-out walk and James Stanfield lined a double to put runners at second and third, but Parrent retired Alex Robinson to end the threat.
Things got a little dicey in the bottom of third inning, when a violent collision at second base sent one player to the hospital. Abel Gonzales picked up a two-out single, then attempted to steal second. Former Pump Jack Adam De La Garza, the Copperheads’ shortstop, took the throw and applied the tag as Gonzales slid into second. The two collided awkwardly, with Gonzales taking a glove to the face as De La Garza fell hard.
As the dust settled, a dazed Gonzales was laying at second base, but he got to his feet several minutes later and was able to remain in the game. De La Garza wasn’t so lucky. In the collision, he hit his head against Gonzales’ helmet, apparently breaking his nose. Though he was in his usual good spirits, De La Garza was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
The score remained tied until the seventh, when an RBI single and a sacrifice fly spotted the Copperheads a 2-0 lead. Jared Kernodle came on for Click with two outs and runners at the corners to hold Coppell to just two runs in the inning.
The Jacks were able to put two runners on in the home half of the seventh, but they couldn’t push a run across against Parrent.
Kernodle finished out the game, going the final 2.1 innings with four strikeouts in his first appearance since July 9. He allowed just one hit and no walks.
Click (4-3) took the loss, allowing two runs on three hits over 6.2 innings. He struggled with his control all night, walking seven and striking out four.
The two teams each posted four hits on the evening, with no player registering more than one safety. Gonzales reached base three times with a single and two walks. Stanfield, Robinson, and Greg Fontenot also had hits for the Pump Jacks.
The Jacks will be looking to for more than revenge on Friday night, when the teams close out their two-game set at historic Driller Park. East Texas will be trying to inch closer to Victoria in the race for first place and the top seed going into the playoffs. The Pump Jacks hold a six-game lead over fifth-place Coppell entering the final two weeks of the season, giving the Jacks a magic number of seven to clinch a playoff spot.
Friday has much more to offer than playoff implications, though. The game is the final Fireworks Friday of the season, presented by KLTV News, your East Texas news leader. The Pump Jacks will light up the night sky for the final time this summer, with a soundtrack full of highlights from the 2009 season.
Tickets for Fireworks Friday and the remainder of the Jacks’ 2009 season schedule are on sale now. Fans may purchase tickets at the Pump Jacks office at 1100 Stone Road, Suite 120, in Kilgore, or over the phone at (903) 218-GO ET. Tickets may also be purchased online – and printed at home on any home printer – by visiting www.pumpjacksbaseball.com.