East Texas remains undefeated and in first place in the standings thanks to O’Leary’s fielder’s choice in the tenth.
The way things are going this season in the Texas Collegiate League, the East Texas Pump Jacks versus the Alexandria Aces is becoming must-see baseball.
In their second extra-inning game out of three with Alexandria this season, and first full game of the year at home following Wednesday’s rain check, Kevin O’Leary sent Pump Jacks fans home happy with a walk-off fielder’s choice in the bottom of the tenth to win 4-3 at Driller Park.
The extra-inning drama for the Pump Jacks when Tyler Girouard smacked a high chopper to third base that Aces third baseman Sean Guite could not field cleanly, allowing Girouard to reach base on the error, the only miscue of the game for Alexandria.
Louie Helmburg then laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, which was fielded off the mound by the pitcher, Jesse Barnes (0-1), who decided to try for the lead runner. He was unsuccessful in catching the speedy Nathan Pittman, who pinch-ran for Girouard, and the Pump Jacks were set up at first and second with no one out.
After an infield popup for the first out of the inning, Logan Davis had the at-bat of his life. He went ahead 2-and-0, then took two strikes to move the count to 2-and-2, and watched a ball to run the count full. He managed to foul off two more pitches the other way before drawing a walk to load the bases and keep the rally alive.
O’Leary didn’t waste any time after Davis’ long at-bat. He socked the first pitch he saw back up the middle. It was deflected by the pitcher out towards the second baseman, who desperately tried to go to second and turn an inning-ending double play. But his throw was off-line, and the hustling Davis beat it out, ending the game.
After two uneventful innings for both teams, the action got started in the bottom of the third for the Pump Jacks. Starting catcher Nathan Zavos led off with a walk, then a sacrifice bunt by Eric Escobedo and a groundout moved Zavos to third. O’Leary came through with a two-out single, plating Zavos for a 1-0 East Texas lead.
The next inning, the Jacks were at it again. Taylor Murphy and Colton Bickerstaff each singled to lead off the inning before another single by Charlie Wagner blooped into the outfield to load the bases. Zavos then grounded into a double play, scoring the second East Texas run, and Escobedo hit a clean single up the middle to score the third run for the Pump Jacks, making the score 3-0 in favor of the home team.
Mike Hager got his first start of the season for the Pump Jacks, and he was great through 6.1 innings, surrendering just three earned runs for a quality start.
But Alexandria would make a game of it thanks to one run in the fifth on an RBI single from Nathan Hale, and two more in the seventh on three consecutive one-out hits, the latter two for extra bases. That tied the game up at 3-3.
Thanks to great relief pitching by Cory Bernard and Jeff Stovall, it stayed that way until the extra-inning heroics from O’Leary and the Pump Jacks. Stovall (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings to get the win, throwing 12 of his 17 pitches for strikes. Barnes took the loss for the Aces.
O’Leary ended up 1-for-5 with two RBI, including the game-winner for the Jacks, while Escobedo picked up his first RBI of the season in going 1-for-3. R.J. Santigate also went 1-for-2 with three of the Pump Jacks’ eleven walks in the contest.
After improving their record to 4-0 on the season, the Pump Jacks head out on the road for one game, traveling to Bryan, Texas, on Friday to take on the Brazos Valley Bombers, who are tied at the top of the TCL standings with East Texas. Both teams enter the game on extended winning streaks, with the Jacks winning their last four games, and topped only by the Bombers’ five-game stretch.
East Texas returns home this weekend to play two games with the Woodlands Strykers on Saturday and Sunday. During Saturday’s game, women ages 18 and up have a chance to win a diamond ring in the Diamond Dash. On Sunday, the Pump Jacks will have the first Dog Days of Summer event of the season, featuring $1 hot dogs throughout the evening.
First pitch for all three games is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
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