The Brazos Valley Bombers took on the Texas Collegiate League’s top team, the McKinney Marshals, Sunday afternoon in a game that was billed as a pitcher’s duel. In the end, it was a ninth-inning Bombers rally that brought the fans to their feet, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Marshals in a 6-4 defeat at Brazos Valley Bank Ballpark.
The Bombers’ Casey Whitmer (1-1) took on Justin Murray, McKinney’s ace. Whitmer, the league’s strikeout leader, was coming off a seven-inning, 14 strikeouts on Tuesday. Murray entered the game with a 0.53 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 17 innings – with no walks.
Unfortunately for Bombers fans, it was Whitmer that blinked first. The Marshals scored a run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly and added another in the fifth on an RBI single. Whitmer lasted five innings, allowing five hits and two runs, walking three and striking out six.
Meanwhile, Murray was rolling through the Bombers lineup. He went six innings and allowed three hits while striking out seven, though he did surrender his first walk of the season.
The Marshals added a run in the seventh and three more in the eighth off of Bombers reliever Tyler Davis. Davis went three innings and allowed eight hits and three earned runs, the first earned runs he has allowed all summer.
When McKinney pushed its lead to 6-0, the four runs appeared at the time to be inconsequential insurance runs. In the ninth, the Bombers made the Marshals cash in that insurance policy.
With McKinney closer Chris Wright on the hill, Mark McGonigle opened the inning by reaching on an error by the shortstop. Pinch-hitter Doug Simmons singled, followed by an RBI double off the bat of Keith Stein. Blake Walker came up next and grounded out to the first baseman; as the play was being made at first, Simmons broke for home and was tagged out to complete the double play.
It appeared the air might have come out of the Bombers rally, but that was just the beginning. Pinch-hitting for Joseph Towns, Miller Aldrich earned a walk. Chris Wallace then singled to load the bases. Shortstop-turned-pitcher Ryan Weber, who had just struck out two in the top of the frame as a reliever, stepped to the plate and promptly hit a bases-clearing double, closing the gap to 6-4. TJ Mittelstaedt took the next turn at the plate and gave the ball a good ride to left, but it resulted in a game-ending flyout.
The B’s managed nine hits on the game, including a pair from both Stein and Weber.
The Bombers go on the road Monday for a critical doubleheader against the division-leading Coppell Copperheads, then take on Duncanville Tuesday in another important divisional game.
The team will be back to celebrate America on July 4 at Brazos Valley Bank Ballpark. The Bombers will take on the Wichita Falls Roughnecks in a special mid-week afternoon game beginning at 3 pm.
The Bombers will go back on the road to finish out the week, followed by a four-game break for the TCL All-Star Game. The Texas Collegiate League All-Star Game will be played on July 9 at TCU and aired live on Fox Sports South. The Bombers and the league will announce the All-Star roster on Monday.