360 feet may not seem like a long distance. Add three left turns and an opposing team of nine players trying to catch up with you, and it can get a little tricky. Now, do all this when the game is on the line and successfully running 360 feet could be the difference between winning and losing, and it can be downright exhausting.
But when you do it successfully, it can be exhilarating.
Paige Hodges hit a run-scoring single in the eighth inning, then raced around the bases to score on the play, providing the margin of victory in the East Texas Pump Jacks’ 3-1 victory over the Coppell Copperheads Sunday at Driller Park.
Hodges stepped to the plate with no outs following a leadoff double by Matt Curry. With the score knotted at 1-1, Hodges singled to center, where Kilgore native Jaron Shepard came up throwing to keep Curry from scoring the go-ahead run. Hodges alertly rounded first and broke for second base on the throw, while Curry held up at third. But Coppell catcher Austin Goolsby’s throw to second was high and sailed back into center field, away from Shepard. Curry was able to trot home, and Hodges raced around third and beat Shepard’s second throw to the plate to give the Jacks a 3-1 lead.
East Texas held on in the ninth, despite putting the tying run at second base, to secure the win and jump back into a second-place tie with Coppell. The two teams sit 4.5 games behind the first-place McKinney Marshals and a half-game ahead of the Brazos Valley Bombers.
The win underscored a dominating pitching performance by the Jacks, led by starter Justin Murray. Murray delivered seven innings of two-hit ball, allowing just one run, walking two and striking out two. His only run came in the sixth inning, when a leadoff double came around to score on a sacrifice fly.
Making his first appearance for the Pump Jacks in relief of Murray was newcomer Michael LaCourse. LaCourse is coming off of a sophomore season at Tyler Junior College that earned him a spot as a third-team juco All-American. He finished with an 8-4 record and 3.29 ERA, leading the Apaches staff in wins, ERA, shutouts (1), strikeouts (53), and appearances (17). He allowed just 54 hits in 65.2 innings for an impressive .218 opponents’ batting average.
LaCourse started just as impressively for the Pump Jacks, striking out the first batter he faced. He retired four of the first five batters he faced, with a harmless error the only blemish in that span. He ran into a bit of trouble with two outs in the ninth, though, allowing a walk and a double to put two runners on. Pat McCrory came in from third base to strike out the last batter of the game and escape the jam.
LaCourse picked up the victory in his debut and McCrory secured his second save of the season.
The Pump Jacks had grabbed an early lead with a run in the first inning. Adam De La Garza led off with a walk and then stole second., McCrory sacrificed him to third, and Josh Riley lofted a sacrifice fly to center to score De La Garza.
The Jacks outhit Coppell 7-3, led by Jared Wondra and Matt Curry, who each had a single and a double. Wondra also shined with a pair of fine catches in left field.
After an off-day on Monday, the Jacks will take on Brazos Valley 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.