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Bombers Down McKinney, Strengthen Hold On First Place

The Brazos Valley Bombers took to the road Saturday night, beating the McKinney Marshals by a score of 4-2. The Bombers loaded the bases in the eighth inning and scored a pair of runs to break a two-all tie and walk away with the victory.

With the win, the B’s increased their lead in the Speaker Division from a half-game to two full games over both the Coppell Copperheads and Colleyville LoneStars.

The Bombers got a strong start from pitcher Garrett Duff to lead them out of the gates. Duff, who will be transferring from Richland College to Ole Miss in the fall, made his first start of the summer and made an excellent showing. After shaking off some rust in a relief appearance Wednesday night, Duff went 6.2 innings Saturday and allowed just two runs. He struck out four, walked three, and gave up four hits. Even though he didn’t pick up a decision, Duff’s effort went a long way towards securing the Bombers first win against McKinney this season.

Strong pitching kept Brazos Valley in the game, but it was timely hitting that gave them the victory. After the Bombers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Marshals tied the score twice. On each occasion, the B’s responded by scoring in their next time at bat.

The deciding runs were scored in the eighth inning, just minutes after McKinney had tied the score. TJ Mittelstaedt led off with a walk, followed by a Keith Stein single. Jess Buenger then singled to load the bases. Mark McGonigle hit a worm-burner to shortstop that Dustin Hood couldn’t scoop up; by the time he looked all around and managed to pick the ball off the ground, everyone was safe and Mittelstaedt had scored the go-ahead run. Will Basom followed with a high fly to center that plated Stein and gave the Bombers a 4-2 lead.

Brazos Valley first grabbed the lead in the top of the first. Stein registered a one-out single, followed by a Buenger grounder that the shortstop couldn’t handle. McGonigle posted his team-leading 17th RBI with a single that scored Stein.

McKinney scored in the bottom of the fourth, but the Bombers came right back with a tally of their own in the top of the fifth inning. Kip Masuda cracked a ball down the left field line that fell about six feet short of a home run, but Masuda had to settle for a leadoff double. Joseph Towns singled to move Masuda to third, but Towns was promptly picked off of first. When Blake Walked grounded out to short, it looked like the B’s might strand Masuda. Instead, Mittelstaedt drew a two-out walk, and Stein doubled to right to score Masuda and give the Bombers a 2-1 lead.

Earning the victory on the evening was Adam Albright (1-0). Albright took over for Duff in the seventh and went the rest of the way, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out three in 2.1 innings. The outing was especially important because not only did Albright pitch effectively and pick up the win, but he kept the Bombers from going deep into their bullpen with a doubleheader on the horizon. Brazos Valley faces the Denton Outlaws in a road twinbill Sunday beginning at 5:05.

Brazos Valley registered ten hits on the evening, led by Stein’s 3-for-4 performance. The Bombers’ center fielder drove in a run and scored twice before giving way to Daman Aaron, who picked up a pinch-single in the ninth inning. Stein is now 7-for-9 in his last two road games. Ryan Weber added two hits in the victory.

After the Bombers doubleheader on Sunday, they enjoy a day off before returning to action Tuesday and Wednesday at Brazos Valley Bank Ballpark. Both games feature the visiting Wichita Falls Roughnecks, and both nights are Firemen Appreciation Nights, during which firemen who show their badge or ID receive a discount of one dollar on any ticket.

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