Brazos Valley Bombers starting pitcher Clint Helms Monday night reinforced that when he is on his game, he is nearly unhittable. Helms, who three weeks ago pitched the first no-hitter in TCL history, spun a nine-inning complete game in leading the Bombers to a 4-2 win over the Duncanville Deputies at Brazos Valley Bank Ballpark.
The victory gives the Bombers a one game lead over the Coppell Copperheads in the Speaker Division race with just a week to go before the playoffs. The idle Colleyville LoneStars are in third, two and a half games back, while Duncanville slid to three games behind the B’s. The top two teams in the division qualify for the TCL playoffs.
Helms (3-2) flirted with another no-hitter while pitching the first nine-inning complete game in team history. The Louisiana Tech product gave up just two hits and one earned run, walked two, and struck out eight. Helms, who at times has struggled with his control, went to a three-ball count just twice on the night, and approximately 80% of the pitches he threw were strikes.
Helms didn’t surrender a hit until a double by Jason Dabbs took right fielder Daman Aaron back to the fence. Aaron nearly made the spectacular catch and kept the no-no alive, but the ball bounced out of his glove as he hit the fence.
The Deputies only other hit came in the ninth inning, when Jimmy Comerota led off with a single. One batter later, center fielder Keith Stein robbed Jeremy Barfield of extra bases with an amazing catch in straightaway center.
With Helms holding down Duncanville, the Bombers offense held up its side of the bargain. The B’s posted a pair of runs in each of the third and fourth innings, giving their pitcher the breathing room he needed. In the third, newcomer Nick Anders drew a walk, then Blake Walker doubled him to third. One batter later, Mark McGonigle dropped a double down the right field line that scored both Anders and Walker. It should come as no surprise that McGonigle was able to read the pitcher and go with the pitch to right – he was facing his younger brother Jim, who started on the hill for the Deputies.
In the fourth, catcher Kip Masuda became a leadoff baserunner after an error by the Duncanville third baseman. Ryan Weber made the Deputies pay for the error, driving a home run to left field to give the Bombers a 4-0 lead. It was Weber’s third shot of the season and the second one he has hit in his last four games.
Weber went 1-for-3 on the night with two RBI. McGonigle picked up two hits in four at-bats, driving in a pair as well. Walker, who has relished his recent part-time leadoff role, was 3-for-3 with a walk, reaching base in all four times to the plate. He also stole two bases, tying Kyle Sisney for the team lead with nine on the season.
That was all the offense Helms would need. The complete game was his team-leading second of the season but the first nine-inning complete game by a Bombers pitcher all year. It also gives the Brazos Valley bullpen a well-deserved and much-needed rest going into the critical final week of the regular season.
The B’s will take to the road beginning Tuesday for the last road trip of the regular season. The trek will open with a makeup doubleheader in Duncanville, followed by a makeup in Mineral Wells against the Steam. Brazos Valley will travel to the McKinney Marshals on Thursday, then make yet another visit to Duncanville on Friday.
Next Saturday, August 4, the Bombers return home to one of the most eagerly anticipated promotions of the season – Acie Law Bobblehead Giveaway. The Bombers will be taking on Colleyville in the first game of a weekend series to close out the regular season, but most fans will be interested in what’s being given away at the door. The first 500 fans through the gate will receive a miniature bobblehead likeness of the former Texas A&M All-American basketball player, now a first round draft choice of the Atlanta Hawks, courtesy of Brazos Valley Bank. This exciting giveaway has had fans buzzing ever since it was announced. It is the first Brazos Valley merchandise item with Law’s likeness and it is sure to be a hot commodity, so fans are encouraged to get tickets early so they don’t miss out.