Lee Orr had two hits and four stolen bases and Michael Haynes scored twice to help propel the top of the order, but it wasn’t enough as the East Texas Pump Jacks surrendered a late lead and fell to the Brazos Valley Bombers, 6-5, Saturday night in Bryan.
Orr, who leads the Texas Collegiate League with three home runs, exhibited the other tools in his repertoire early and often. Batting leadoff for the first time in 2010, Orr singled to open the game, then he stole both second and third. One out later, Aaron McCain walked. With Zac Fisher at the dish, McCain dashed for second and slid in safely, and Orr came home easily on the back end of the double steal for the first run of the game.
Orr reached base again with one out in the fifth inning, when he swung and missed on a third strike, but the ball got away from the Bombers’ catcher. During Michael Haynes’ at-bat, Orr stole second base. His exhibition on the bases Saturday gave him 13 swipes on the season without being caught, the second-highest total in the league.
Haynes proceeded to reach base the same way as Orr, on a strikeout but with a passed ball that also allowed Orr to advance to third. The extra base was vital, as Orr was able to tag up and score on McCain’s sacrifice fly down the right field line. Haynes moved to second base when the right fielder’s throw to home hit the umpire. Fisher then singled and the Pump Jacks were up, 3-1.
Fisher, who has been on top of the TCL RBI leaderboard all season, was tied by two other players recently at 15, but driving in Haynes put Fisher back on top.
Brazos Valley chipped away with single runs in the second and fifth innings, but East Texas extended its lead in the seventh as Orr and Haynes crossed the plate again.
Orr doubled with one out, followed by a Haynes single and steal. McCain was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Matt Carvutto came up one out later and he too joined the hit parade.
Carvutto, who along with Fisher, McCain and Orr are the hitters representing the Pump Jacks at the TCL All-Star Game, laced a pitch down the left field line that ultimately got caught in the tarp for a ground-rule double. All three runners scored on the play, at least momentarily. After some discussion, umpires ruled that McCain would not have scored on the play and ordered him back to third.
McCain ended up stranded at third, a crucial call that would rear its ugly head just half an inning later.
The Pump Jacks entered the home half of the seventh with a 5-2 lead and appeared to be in control. But after the seventh-inning stretch, five straight Bombers reached base on the way to a four-run inning, giving Brazos Valley a 6-5 advantage.
Facing their first deficit of the game, the Jacks were unable to make up the run that was ordered back to third in the seventh, falling in order in the eighth and ninth innings.
Kyle Martin had a strong start playing in the shadow of nearby Texas A&M. The Aggie freshman pitched five innings and gave up just two runs while striking out three Bombers.
Jacks pitchers were aided twice by timely East Texas throws to the plate. In the second inning, the Bombers attempted to duplicate McCain and Orr’s double steal, but the runner coming home was thrown out. Then, with two outs and a runner on second base in the sixth frame, a Bomber single ricocheted off Haynes at second and into right field. Orr charged the ball and fired home, easily cutting down the scoring attempt.
The defeat closed out the first half of the season for the Pump Jacks with a 14-11 record, good for third place and two games off the pace. The Bombers moved into a tie with the Victoria Generals for first place, but Victoria earned the first-half division title by virtue of their head-to-head record with Brazos Valley.
With the title, the Generals are guaranteed a berth in the TCL playoffs. After the all-star break, all win-loss records are reset to 0-0, with the second-half champion also earning a spot in the postseason.
The last two playoff entries will go to wild cards, the teams with the best records over the course of the full season.
The Pump Jacks will enjoy an off-day for the holiday before sending a posse to the TCL All-Star Game on Monday. In addition to the aforementioned hitters, Brad Kottman, Jordan Nicholson, and Khris Tate are on the North All-Star pitching staff. Pump Jacks head coach Ben Taylor will manage the North squad for the marquee event, which will take place in Victoria.
The second half of play gets going next Thursday with the Pump Jacks visiting the North Texas Copperheads.
Friday, July 9, marks the first 2010 visit to historic Driller Park by Brazos Valley, and it’s also one of the most popular promotions: Fireworks Friday presented by KLTV News. The Pump Jacks will light up the night sky with a spectacular post-game fireworks display, set to a brand-new soundtrack. Fireworks Friday presented by KLTV News always impresses, so don’t miss it!
East Texas closes out the short homestand next Saturday, July 10, with another Saturday Giveaway. Look for an announcement very shortly about what will be available for Saturday’s giveaway. One hint: Think electronics! The Jacks guarantee you’ll want to be here for this one!
Pump Jacks Nation is now on Facebook! Visit the East Texas Pump Jacks official team page on Facebook to follow all the news and gossip about the Pump Jacks, post your thoughts on the Jacks 2010 season, upload photos, and interact with other fans. Plus, the Jacks will post specials and discounts just for the Facebook community on the page! Click the link on the left side of the Pump Jacks web site or at the top of every news article on the site, and join Pump Jacks Nation on Facebook!
The Pump Jacks are still seeking families to host players. Hosting a player is a great experience that forges a lifelong bond with a young man, a relationship that transcends the game of baseball. Host families also receive free season tickets for every member of their household. If you’re interested in finding out more about the host family program, please contact the Pump Jacks at (903) 218-GO ET or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To follow all Pump Jacks news, including player awards, game stories and promotions, log on to the team’s official Website at www.pumpjacksbaseball.com.