Pump Jacks surge late, force deciding third game
KILGORE -- Ty Schlottmann snapped his losing streak in a must-win situation Tuesday night, giving East Texas a chance to play for the Texas Collegiate League title.
The Pump Jacks entered the game with losses in Schlottmann's last six starts, but the left-hander pitched six solid innings and earned the victory in a 7-4 win against Victoria at Driller Park.
With the win, East Texas (40-22) evened the best-of-three TCL championship series and set up a winner-takes-all game three at Driller Park at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
"To be able to play in an elimination game and win it is a real special thing," East Texas coach Ben Taylor said. "It's a testament to my kids. These guys have grinded it out all year. It's a good baseball team.
"Victoria's a real good team and it'll be a challenge. It's for all the marbles and it's going to be a good night."
Schlottmann (3-5) allowed runs in the first and fourth innings, but was otherwise solid in earning his first win since June 23. He gave up two runs, one earned, five hits and two walks, while striking out three Victoria batters.
"I hadn't gotten a win in a while, but coming into this coach (Taylor) told me to throw like it's any other game," Schlottmann said. "So I just came up here with a mindset of keep doing what I've been doing.
"I threw a lot of changeups. Keeping them off balance with that helped me."
East Texas scored just one run in Schlottmann's previous two starts, but built on the lead Tuesday. The Pump Jacks led 3-2 after six innings, then extended their lead in the seventh and eighth frames.
Center fielder Tyler Sullivan scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh, pushing the lead to 4-2.
East Texas struck for three more runs in the eighth, insurance runs it would need when the Pump Jacks committed two errors and closer Jason Jester gave up two runs in the top of the ninth.
"I learned a long time ago that no run is worth more than another," Taylor said. "You never know what run is going to decide a game. It was pretty special to be able to score late in the game like that."
The Generals (38-23) had an opportunity to clinch the TCL title after a 5-3 win Monday, but fell to 1-7 at Driller Park this season with the loss.
Victoria stranded eight runners in the game, while its pitchers struggled with command, combining to give up 13 walks.
Generals left-handed starter Trae Davis (2-4) walked five batters and allowed Pump Jacks' leadoff hitters to reach in each of the first four innings, control issues that cost him a run in the second, third and fourth frames.