The Brazos Valley Bombers closed out a three-game, two-day road trip by splitting a doubleheader against the Denton Outlaws Sunday evening. The Bombers fell in the opener by a 10-1 margin, then fought and clawed for a 2-1 victory in the nightcap.
With the split, the B’s retain first place in the Speaker Division. Their lead remains two games over the idle Colleyville LoneStars and two games over the Coppell Copperheads, pending the results of Coppell’s Sunday doubleheader against the Duncanville Deputies.
The Bombers win came as a result of some gutsy pitching and timely hitting, with a dose of strong relief. Clint Helms (2-2) toed the rubber for the second game of a road doubleheader, the same recipe that resulted in the TCL’s first ever no-hitter on July 10 in Coppell. On Sunday, Helms didn’t have quite the same results, working in and out of trouble all night, but he gutted it out to earn the victory. The righthander saw the first batter of the game score but that was all the damage the Outlaws would do. Helms went four innings, allowing just the one run on one hit and five walks, striking out a pair of batters.
A hallmark of the Bombers recent success has been the ability to answer an opponent’s tally with a run of their own. The same was true in game two Sunday, as the B’s responded to Denton’s first-inning score with a run in the top of the second. Daman Aaron notched a two-out single, then Joseph Towns surprised the Outlaws with a bunt single. Chris Wallace then walked to load the bases. Ryan Weber followed with a hot shot to third that resulted in an infield single, scoring Aaron to tie the game.
The top of the third proved that Brazos Valley has some quick-strike potential as well. After Helms worked out of a second-inning jam, Jess Buenger lined a one-out single up the middle. Will Basom then drove a ball to the wall in right-center that gave Buenger a chance to score all the way from first with the go-ahead run. Basom, tied for the league lead in doubles and the team leader in extra-base hits, cruised past second and rolled into third with his first triple as a Bomber.
Staked to a 2-1 lead, the Bombers staff held on the rest of the way. Denton put multiple runners on base in four of the final five innings but stranded them all, including the bases loaded in the fourth. Evan Cox pitched a pair of scoreless innings to hold the lead, giving up a hit and walking one. Tyler Davis came on in the seventh for his fourth save of the season.
The Bombers efficient seven-hit attack was led by Towns, who collected two hits in three at-bats.
While the second game of the doubleheader was tense and dramatic, the opener was quite the opposite. Denton jumped out to a big early lead and coasted the rest of the way.
Cody Curry (2-3) took the loss for the Bombers, starting the game and going just 1.1 innings. He set down the side in order in the first inning, but in the second, he lost his groove. The Outlaws pounded out eight hits and scored eight runs, seven of them earned, before Curry gave way to Brice Ary. Ary went the final 4.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits, walking one and striking out two.
The Bombers scored their lone run in the fourth inning. Blake Walker led off with a walk, followed by a double by Buenger. After Basom grounded out, Denton starting pitcher Mike Ojala uncorked a wild pitch and Walker scampered home to break the shutout.
In addition to Buenger’s double, Towns and Kyle Sisney registered hits in game one.
The Bombers get a chance to rest up with Monday’s off-day before returning to action Tuesday and Wednesday at Brazos Valley Bank Ballpark. Both games feature the visiting Wichita Falls Roughnecks in a battle of the TCL’s first place teams. The two nights are also Firemen Appreciation Nights, during which firemen who show their badge or ID receive a discount of one dollar on any ticket.