A quick, fierce thunderstorm oftentimes leaves a sloppy mess in its wake.
Thursday night, it left a sloppy baseball game, too.
After a storm descended on Driller Park and delayed Thursday night’s game by an hour, the visiting Brazos Valley Bombers scored four runs in the eighth inning to steal an 8-6 decision from the East Texas Pump Jacks.
The game featured 15 hits, 14 walks and only eight strikeouts, 18 runners left on base, five errors, four unearned runs, and five lead changes. Five runs were scored in the first two innings and nine more in the final three innings, but the middle four frames were scoreless. But in the end it was Brazos Valley that rallied last to steal the victory away from the Pump Jacks.
The loss keeps the Jacks two games behind the Coppell Copperheads in the race for second place – and home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. With three games remaining in the regular season, it also leaves East Texas 1.5 games ahead of fourth-place Brazos Valley.
The Bombers grabbed a lead in the top of the first, scoring two unearned runs off of East Texas starting pitcher James Alvarado. The Jacks cut the gap in half in the bottom of the frame when Matt Curry singled home Adam De La Garza. The Pump Jacks had a chance for much more, loading the bases with nobody out, but Bombers starting pitcher John Touchton came back to strike out the side.
East Texas loaded the bases again in the second inning, and again it was Curry doing the damage. Touchton walked Brad Hawn, Jared Wondra, and De La Garza to open the frame. With one out, Curry singled to right, scoring two.
But that’s where the scoring stopped, at least for a while. Both starting pitchers settled down and held the respective offenses at bay. Alvarado went six innings, giving up two unearned runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out two.
In the seventh, the game got wild again. Kilgore native Logan Chitwood, a freshman out of Navarro College, made his first appearance since his Monday signing – and he wasn’t greeted kindly. After retiring the first two batters he faced, an error opened the door to two unearned runs, allowing the Bombers to take the lead, 4-3.
Again, the Pump Jacks responded in the home half of the inning. Curry drew a one-out walk, then he found himself at third base after a double by Paige Hodges. Josh Riley lined a single up the middle, scoring two runs and snatching the lead again, 5-4. After a groundout by J.D. Dunn advanced Riley to second, Andrew Nettune delivered an RBI single to up the lead to 6-4.
That lead proved to be short-lived, though. Chitwood walked the first batter he saw in the eighth inning and then allowed an RBI double, ending his night with a 6-5 lead. Reliever Hunter Harris didn’t fare better, as the Bombers tied the game on the very first batter. Harris would surrender two more runs to give Brazos Valley an 8-6 lead.
The Jacks brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth and ninth innings, but ultimately they were doomed by the double play ball. East Texas grounded into four on the night, including one in each of the final two innings to stunt budding rallies.
Alex Braly came on for a scoreless ninth inning in his second appearance since joining East Texas at the league transaction deadline on Monday.
Chitwood’s night ended with one-plus innings pitched with four runs – two of them earned – on two hits and two walks. Harris followed with two earned runs on three hits in one inning,
Curry was the only East Texas hitter to post a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored. Riley had a hit, a run, and two RBI.
The Jacks continue the final homestand of the regular season with the finale of their two-game set against the Bombers on Friday. The game also marks the final Fireworks Friday of the regular season. The first three post-game displays have lit up the East Texas sky and drawn rave reviews from fans. This quite possibly is the last chance to catch a fireworks show in East Texas until next summer, so don’t miss the chance to enjoy Fireworks Friday!
Saturday welcomes the Coppell Copperheads in a possible playoff preview – as well as a great new giveaway. The Pump Jacks will be giving away keepsake posters commemorating the team’s inaugural season and its players in a stylish collage of action photos. Posters will be given to the first 750 fans through the Driller Park gates, so fans are encouraged to arrive early.
Sunday, the final home game of the regular season, will be yet another Pump Jacks Family Night, the best deal for food and entertainment in East Texas. A family of four can get grandstand tickets for $12 – that’s up to 40% off! For $13 more, add a meal package consisting of a hot dog, chips, and a drink for everyone in the party. That’s four tickets for $12, or four tickets and four meals for $25, for the final game of the regular season.
Although the playoff seeding is still taking shape, it’s clear the postseason will open on August 5. If the Jacks remain in third place, Game One of the first round will take place at Driller Park. Season ticket holders may purchase a ticket package for all possible playoff games by contacting the Pump Jacks office. Playoff tickets will go on sale to the general public this weekend.
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.
Single-game tickets start at $5 each – or $4 for children and seniors – for grandstand general admission tickets. Upper Box seats are $8 each, and Lower Box seats, which feature in-your-seat wait service, are only $10 per ticket.