It was the kind of hard-fought, nail-biting pitching duel that baseball purists refer to as a classic.
Of course, when you find yourself on the short end of a classic, you have a different word for it… like heartbreaker.
The East Texas Pump Jacks dropped a 1-0 decision to the McKinney Marshals Thursday night in McKinney. The game slipped away when the Marshals posted an unearned run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The loss marred the spectacular debut of James Alvarado, a new addition to the Pump Jacks pitching staff. A sophomore out of Howard College, Alvarado was joining his new teammates for the very first time Thursday night.
He sure made a very good first impression.
Alvarado, who posted a perfect 6-0 record and a 4.37 ERA at Howard in the spring, tossed eight innings of shutout ball against the TCL’s first-place team. He allowed just four hits and walked three, striking out three. The righthander from North Richland Hills seemed to get stronger as the game went along, retiring the final eight Marshals he faced. He allowed only one baserunner to reach second base in holding the league’s highest scoring offense at bay.
Unfortunately for Alvarado and the Jacks, East Texas was having just as much trouble with McKinney starter Jimmy Nelson. Nelson gave up two hits in seven shutout innings, giving way to Pump Jacks nemesis Del Howell in the eighth. When the ninth inning rolled around, the game was still a scoreless tie.
After the Pump Jacks went down in order in the ninth, reliever Aaron Wilkerson took over for Alvarado. Wilkerson walked the leadoff hitter, then saw a sacrifice move a pinch-runner over to second. Justin Bloxom, the league’s leading home run hitter, was intentionally walked, putting Marshals runners at first and second. Wilkerson struck out Howell looking, putting him one out away from escaping the threat. Pinch-hitter Nick Schwaner lofted what appeared to be a routine fly ball to right field. J.D. Dunn camped under the ball, but at the last moment something went wrong. The ball bounced off the heel of Dunn’s glove, falling to the ground as McKinney scored the lucky winning run.
A 1-0 final in McKinney might appear eerily familiar to Pump Jacks fans. The very first game in Jacks history was on June 10, when East Texas visited the Marshals. That contest ended 1-0 on an unearned run in the first inning.
The loss, coupled with the Coppell Copperheads’ shutout of the Brazos Valley Bombers, puts the Pump Jacks in a tie for third place with Coppell. The two teams are 5.5 games behind the Marshals but only a half-game in back of the second place Bombers.
The entire game featured seven hits, all singles, with McKinney grabbing the edge, 4-3. Adam De La Garza, Garrett Smith, and Dunn notched hits for East Texas.
The Pump Jacks will try to close out their six-game road trip on a winning note Friday night in McKinney. The Jacks are 3-2 thus far on the trip.
The Pump Jacks will return to East Texas on Saturday. Upon their return, fans will have a chance to pick up a new giveaway at the ballpark – plus some autographed memorabilia. On Saturday, the Pump Jacks will be giving away ThunderStix – the logo-emblazoned inflatable noisemakers made famous at sporting events around the globe – courtesy of the Kilgore News Herald. The first 500 fans will receive a pair of ThunderStix featuring the Pump Jacks logo on one side and the Kilgore News Herald’s logo on the other.
Fans will have a chance to pick up some great Pump Jacks autographed memorabilia as well on Saturday. The Jacks will be giving away a select number of team-signed baseballs and autographed bats throughout the game. Four Pump Jacks players have already been drafted by Major League teams, and it’s quite possible that anyone on the Jacks can follow in the footsteps of Hunter Pence and Clay Buchholz from the TCL to Major League stardom. This is your chance to pick up autographed memorabilia from the Pump Jacks inaugural season, so don’t miss it!
On Sunday, the Jacks will host Family Night for the second game of their series against the Copperheads. Pump Jacks Family Night offers fans a family four-pack of grandstand tickets for just $12 – up to 40% off the regular price of the tickets. Fans also have the option of adding a family-pack of meals – including hot dogs, soft drinks, and chips for four – for an additional $13. That’s four tickets for just $12, or four tickets and four meals for a total of $25, making Family Night the best entertainment deal in East Texas!
The Jacks will then take on the Brazos Valley Bombers for a two-game set on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 22 and 23. On Tuesday night, Pump Jacks fans can enjoy Two Dollar Tuesdays, when the team will offer discounts on select meals, food, and drinks, discounting each one to just two dollars. And on Wednesday, show your colors for Pump Jacks Pride Wednesdays. Fans that wear their Pump Jacks gear on Wednesday nights will receive half-price grandstand tickets for the game. Wear a shirt, bring your cap, or even make your own gear to prove you’re part of Pump Jacks Nation, and you’ll get in for half price at the gate.
Tickets for the remainder of the Jacks’ inaugural 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.
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.