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East Texas Pump Jacks head to TCL playoffs

East Texas Pump Jacks head to TCL playoffs
East Texas Pump Jacks

POSTED: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 10:56am

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 10:56am

Since the East Texas Pump Jacks joined the Texas Collegiate League, no team has had more players drafted by big league teams or more members of the All-TCL team.

One more thing has been true: the Pump Jacks have never missed the playoffs.

That streak will continue this season after the Jacks swept the Texas Marshals in a doubleheader Tuesday, clinching the fourth and final seed in the TCL playoffs. It marks the seventh-straight season East Texas has reached the postseason the second longest streak in league history.

The playoffs will open Saturday when the Pump Jacks will travel to Bryan to face the Brazos Valley Bombers, the defending champions and top seed in the TCL playoffs. The first round of the postseason is a single game, so the winner advances to the TCL Championship Series, while the loser is eliminated.

The Jacks secured their spot in the postseason by outscoring the Marshals 16-1 in the doubleheader. The opener was a convincing 11-0 victory, but the 5-1 win in the nightcap wasn’t certain until a four-run seventh inning.

East Texas came out swinging early, scoring in the first five innings of the opener. James Lear opened the game with a single, Connor Huesers doubled him home, and Joe Moroney followed with an RBI double of his own to give the Jacks a 2-0 lead by the third hitter of the game. Drew McLaughlin’s sacrifice fly scored Dustin Williams, and the Pump Jacks were up 3-0 in the first frame.

In the second inning, Lear reached on an error, stole second, and advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt by pitcher Austin Hilton. Huesers singled home Lear, and that was it for Hilton. Another RBI double by Moroney put the Jacks ahead by a 5-0 score.

The Pump Jacks continued to extend the lead in the third inning. Connor Hornsby led off with a single and stole second. McLaughlin’s base hit put runners at the corners. Nick Rabat grounded into a fielder’s choice, retiring McLaughlin but bringing home Hornsby for a 6-0 lead.

The fourth inning ushered in yet another Texas pitcher, but more of the same for the Jacks. Huesers picked up a one-out base hit and stole second. Moroney followed with his third RBI double in as many at-bats. Williams drove in Moroney with an RBI single for an 8-0 lead, and the rout was on.

In the fifth, Chris Osborne singled home McLaughlin after the latter opened the frame with a double.

With a 9-0 lead after five innings, starting pitcher John Jaeger called it a night. The freshman righty need just 54 pitches to get through five frames, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out two.

Jaeger passed the baton to Kyle Garvin, who struck out three over the last two innings to preserve the shutout.

East Texas added two more runs in the seventh for good measure. McLaughlin led off with a walk, followed by base hits from Rabat and Osborne to load the bases. RBI groundouts by Lear and Huesers finished off the scoring.

Huesers and Moroney had three hits and three RBI apiece to lead the 17-hit attack. Lear, Williams, McLaughlin, and Osborne each had two hits as well. The top of the order—Lear, Huesers, Moroney, and Williams—combined to go 10-for-18 with seven runs scored and eight RBI.

With the opportunity to sweep and clinch a playoff spot, the Pump Jacks turned to Jeremy Hallonquist in the nightcap. It looked like it could be another laugher in the second game until an unexpected element entered the game: Mother Nature.

The Jacks again jumped out to an early lead thanks to Moroney. Lear walked on four pitches, moved to second base on a wild pitch, and stole third. Huesers also walked, and Moroney knocked in Lear with a base hit for a 1-0 lead.

The scored remained 1-0 in the middle of the second inning when a storm system rolled in, delaying the game nearly two hours. When the teams returned to the field, Marshals starting pitcher Taylor Henry was done for the night, but Hallonquist remained in the game.

Texas didn’t welcome the Pump Jacks all-star kindly. Two singles and an RBI groundout in the home half of the second tied the score at 1-1.

The game turned into a nail-biter as both offenses struggled to gain any traction after the storm. When the seventh inning began, an already long night appeared to be headed to extra innings.

That’s when the East Texas offense found its mojo again.

Osborne reached base on a one-out error by the first baseman in a near collision at the bag. He made his way to third on a passed ball and a groundout, putting the potential winning run 90 feet away with two outs. Huesers walked, bringing up Moroney with runners at the corners.

The Pump Jacks all-star came through yet again, singling home Osborne and kicking off a four-run rally. Williams walked to load the bases and Raymond Pedrina was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Hornsby’s grounder to third was mishandled for another run, and Williams scampered home on a wild pitch for a 5-1 lead.

Robbie Petty closed out the seventh to wrap up the game and a playoff spot.

Moroney went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored, bringing his totals on the night to 5-for-9 with five RBI and two runs.

The East Texas offense had only four hits in the nightcap but benefitted from 10 walks and two errors. McLaughlin walked three times, Huesers walked twice and singled, and Lear earned two walks.

The Pump Jacks can rest easy on Wednesday before returning to Historic Driller Park for a two-game set against the Acadiana Cane Cutters to close out the regular season.

Thursday is the final Thirsty Thursday of the summer, giving fans one last chance to cool off before the playoffs. Draft beers will be just one dollar and regular soft drinks are 50-cents, so get the frosty beverages while they last!

Friday isn’t just the last game of the regular season, it’s the final Fireworks Friday of the summer. The Jacks will light up the night sky for the final time in 2014, sharing a postgame fireworks extravaganza with a brand-new soundtrack. This will be a show to last you through the off-season, so don’t miss it!


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