Pacheco pitches gem, Generals grab Game 1 of TCL series
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Once the final out was made they lingered on the field a little longer than usual.
The Victoria Generals might be halfway home to a second Texas Collegiate League championship in three years, but Monday's 5-3 win over East Texas marked the last time the team will play at Riverside Stadium this summer.
Stellar starting pitching and timely hitting lifted the Generals to their seventh straight win.
Victoria starter Jordan Pacheco allowed an earned run on three hits through seven innings. His final inning might have been his finest, as the Pump Jacks stranded runners on second and third in a 2-1 game.
Generals coach Chris Clemons visited the mound after a Louis Helmburg sacrifice advanced Logan Preston to third and Kevin O'Leary to second base with just one out.
"He wanted to leave me out there," Pacheco recalled. "He just wanted to see what I had to say. Basically, he came out to calm me down and get me focused. It happened to work really well."
Indeed. Before catcher Ryan Guedry left the mound meeting, Pacheco told to setup inside East Texas' Tyler Sullivan so he could jam him inside. Sullivan popped up the first Pacheco pitch to third baseman Patrick Duncan for the second out.
Jon Williams, who scored in the first inning, fanned on a 2-2 breaking ball to end the Pump Jacks threat.
"I try not to overthink it. I just try to think of it as another game," Pacheco said. "It just happened to be a playoff game. I knew I had to give our team the best chance to win. We got some good run support."
The seventh proved to be pivotal, because Victoria scored three runs, on just one hit, to take a 5-1 lead. A RBI single from Chad Kruse brought in Trent Wagner to complete the Generals scoring for the night.
Prior to Kruse's single, Victoria was 1 for 5 with the bases loaded. Yet, the Generals found ways to plate runners in those situations.
Trent Wagner scored in the second inning when Alex Klonowski walked. Kruse had a RBI single in the sixth. Earlier in the seventh, Brandon Tierney earned an RBI when he was hit by a pitch.
"My teammates, it's a different guy every night that comes through. Luckily, tonight it was me," Kruse said. "I had a couple chances with the bases loaded and got a couple of hits there. My teammates are unreal. It's someone every night who comes through. It doesn't matter 1-9, some one picks it up every night."
East Texas added two more in the top of the eighth to make it 5-3, but by then it was too late.
Throughout the summer the Generals have spoken of the team's resilience. They are well aware baseball is a game where players and teams get knocked on their butt a few times.
This week, the Generals might face their sternest test of the summer as they travel to Driller Park in search of a championship. East Texas is a league-best 23-7 there this summer and will be starting their two top-end southpaws in Ty Schlottmann and Kyle Kubat.
"We're really confident," Pacheco said. "We came in this thing thinking everyone was going to have to participate. That's the way it's been. We've used (six) pitchers the last two days, so these next two days are going to be kind of scrappy. We're going to have to use everyone, so it's going to be a team effort."
TCL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Generals 5, Pump Jacks 3
East Texas 100 000 020 - 3 6 0
Victoria 010 001 30x - 5 7 2
W; Pacheco, L: Stovall, S: T. Green. Highlights: Chad Kruse 2 for 4, 2 RBIs; P. Duncan 1 for 3, 2 BB, Brandon Tierney 2 for 3, R, RBI; Jordan Pacheco, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 Ks. NOTE: Victoria leads best-of-three series 1-0. GAME 2: 7 p.m. at Kilgore's Driller Park; Game 3, if needed, Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Kilgore's Driller Park.