Grapefruit and Cactus League action is under way, giving fans across the country their first chance in months to read big league box scores. Of course, since it’s still early in spring training, most of us don’t recognize half of the names playing for our favorite teams.
It’s a good thing that college baseball is in full swing, giving Pump Jacks fans a chance to keep up with their favorite East Texas ballplayers. And once again, this past week was a productive one for Pump Jacks Nation.
Ben Taylor and Scottsdale Community College posted a 3-1 record on the week, improving to 12-6 on the season and 7-3 in conference play. The Artichokes swept a mid-week pair against Gateway Community College, then split a weekend series against Mesa Community College, including a dramatic extra-inning victory on Friday. Taylor, the associate head coach at SCC, is the new head coach of the Pump Jacks.
2008 Pump Jacks head coach Stan Phelps and his UT-Tyler Patriots won a mid-week game over Hardin-Simmons before dropping two of three over the weekend to conference rival McMurray. Despite the setback, the Patriots are still 10-3 on the season and nationally ranked (#5 on D3Baseball.com, #13 with Collegiate Baseball). Paige Hodges had a solid week, going 4-for-12 (.333) with a run scored and a stolen base.
Other former Pump Jacks making news last week:
J.D. Dunn: Dunn sparkled last week for Saint Louis, posting two hits in each of the Billikens’ three games. Dunn posted six hits in thirteen at-bats for a .462 average, scoring four runs and driving in another. With two doubles and a triple, his slugging percentage was .769. Friday night, Dunn got on base to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, then came around to score the game-winning run as Saint Louis downed Eastern Illinois.
Matt Curry: Curry hasn’t missed a beat since arriving at TCU, and he continued his torrid hitting last week. Curry went 4-for-11 (.364) with a double and a stolen base as TCU went 3-0 for the week. He added four runs and an RBI as the nationally-ranked Horned Frogs took games from #11 Ole Miss, Dallas Baptist, and Texas State.
Daniel Nottebart: Nottebart saw action in three of four games over the weekend as the Bearkats hosted the Sam Houston Baseball Classic tournament. The lanky first baseman went 4-for-11 (.364) with a double, two runs scored, and two RBI. Matt Shelton tossed three scoreless innings for Sam Houston Saturday against Missouri State, the only pitcher of the eight used by both teams to not give up a run in the game. And Adam De La Garza, who is still acclimated himself at Sam Houston, picked up his first hit and run scored as a Bearkat.
Aaron Wilkerson: The #10 prospect in the TCL in 2008 is off to a hot start in his sophomore campaign with Panola. In four appearances this spring, Wilkerson has a 2-0 record and an ERA of 1.46. He’s struck out 21 in just 12.1 innings, allowing only five hits and four walks, helping the Ponies to a 14-2 record.
Michael LaCourse: The former All-American at Tyler Junior College made a pair of appearances for Dallas Baptist as the Patriots went 3-1 last week. In a mid-week contest, he tossed a scoreless inning against TCU, walking former Pump Jacks teammate Matt Curry in the outing. LaCourse finished off Saturday’s win over Sienna with another scoreless inning, improving his season ERA to 2.25.
Pump Jacks fans will begin to learn more about this year’s squad in the coming weeks as the team prepares to introduce players for the 2009 season. The team boasts players from familiar schools like the top-ranked team in the country, LSU, #3 Rice, #5 Texas A&M, and other Big 12 programs, plus new additions from Taylor’s West Coast roots, like Pacific, Cal Poly, and New Mexico.
Jess Todd: Kilgore High grad Jess Todd took his first steps last week toward making the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff out of spring training. In the Cardinals’ second spring training game last Thursday, Todd went 2.1 innings and allowed one run against the Baltimore Orioles. Todd, who pitched in the TCL in 2006 for the Coppell Copperheads, advanced all the way to Triple-A last season and is ranked the organization’s #4 prospect by Baseball America.
Free Season Tickets: That’s right, free! With players this season coming to East Texas from across the country, the team is actively searching for host families. Host families enjoy the opportunity to have a potential future major leaguer live with them, forging a bond that lasts a lifetime. As an added bonus, host families receive FREE season tickets for everyone in their household. Click here or contact the Pump Jacks for more information.
The 2009 season is scheduled to begin on Friday, June 5, when the Pump Jacks host the league’s newest team, the Victoria Generals. The 48-game regular season will run through August 8, to be followed by the playoffs and TCL Championship Series. Fans can download a copy of the team’s schedule by clicking here.
Season tickets are currently on sale, with ticket packages starting as low as $105 – and $85 for children and seniors – for all 24 regular season home games. Box seat season tickets are also available, including Lower Box seats, which feature in-your-seat wait service all game long, every game. For more information on Pump Jacks season tickets, click here or contact the Jacks office at (903) 218-GO ET.