Generals clinch title with no-doubt win over East Texas
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Tom Filip was in his third TCL championship series, and second with the Generals.
Each time, a title had eluded him.
On Saturday night, the soon-to-be senior at Baylor was tasked with closing out what seemed like a sure thing against the East Texas Pump Jacks.
The reward for him and his teammates? The first TCL championship to come to Victoria, and a chance a redemption for last year's series loss to Coppell.
Coming off a win on Friday night in Kilgore that a five-run rally in the late innings off the Pump Jacks bullpen to eventually win the game, Filip said he was leaving nothing to chance.
But, at the same time, he said he knew it was over.
"It's baseball and anything can happen at any given time," he said. "With the way we've been playing, being able to finish games, we had a swagger about us, and I figured that if I could get ground balls my infielders could make plays behind me."
In just their second year, the Generals secured their first Texas Collegiate League championship with a 10-2 win against East Texas, the same title that eluded them the season before when they reached the final series and were swept.
Filip said winning the TCL title meant a lot to the team and to those that had been supporting them all season.
"It was really frustrating last near to not be able to get it done," Filip said. "It's summer ball, and yeah, everyone plays to get better, and there's a lot of people who play for themselves.
"But in the end, it's all about trying to win and trying to come out on top."
Unlike Friday's series opener, the Generals left little to doubt in Game 2, scoring in four of the first five innings off of a procession of East Texas pitchers, beginning with starter Kyle Martin. All told, East Texas ran through four pitchers in six innings, with only one - Brad Kottman - escaping without allowing run.
"We did a job at the plate that was second to none," said Generals coach Chris Clemons. "Our goal was to go in and be selective. I think we worked 10 walks out of it, and it was huge to get on base for our Russells, and our Hudsons and our Machs."
After going 4-for-5 the previous night, center fielder Mark Hudson was again the central figure in the Generals' offense.
Twice, the Memorial graduate batted in two key runs, first driving in Brendan McGaheran to erase an early 1-0 deficit, and next bringing in three runs on a bases-clearing double in the fifth inning to put the game out of reach.
"I was relaxed at the plate, just trying to see the ball," Hudson said. "That's all that's in my mind. ... I'd rather be lucky than good. Every body was hitting the ball hard and I was finding holes."
Hudson finished the game 2-for-4 with a double and 3 RBIs, and was 6-for-9 in the championship series with 5 RBIs.
On top of that, East Texas' big bats stayed quiet for most of the night, and when they did wake up it caused little damage. El Campo native Lee Orr, who won the league MVP award this season, never batted with runners on, leading off four innings. He finished the game 2-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, and was rarely in a position to do any real damage.
East Texas first baseman Zac Fisher met with similar problems, going 1-for-5 with an RBI, his lone hit coming in the first inning.
Starter Sam Walker pitched six strong innings for the Generals, allowing just the one earned run in the first inning. He had four strikeouts, and also was helped by getting two double plays.
"Sam was very aggressive tonight," Clemons said. "I talked to him about it all night. He never got hurt on the fastball, it's was always on the secondary stuff, and he got us to the seventh inning, which is a lot more than anyone can ask."
VICTORIA 10, EAST TEXAS 2
PUMP JACKS 100 000 100 2 9 1
GENERALS 123 040 00x - 10 12 1
W - Walker, L-Martin. (ET) Kyle Martin, John Walter (2), Brad Kottman (4), Chase Adams (5), Garrett Methvin (7) and Chase Graskawicz. (VIC) Sam Walker, Ryan Turner (7), Tom Filip (9) and Abel Baker. Highlights: (VIC) Mark Hudson 2-for-4, BB, 2B, R, 3 RBI; Jeramie Marek 3-for-3, 2 R, RBI, 2B, BB; Abel Baker 2-for-4, 2-run HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB. Note: Generals win series over East Texas 2-0.