With every other game in the Texas Collegiate League postponed by rain, Tuesday night’s contest between the Brazos Valley Bombers and Coppell Copperheads was in the league spotlight.
And it was a game that was well worth the spotlight.
Bombers starting pitcher Casey Whitmer posted a gem, striking out the first five Copperheads he faced on his way to a Brazos Valley-record 14 K’s. But it took a pinch-hit single by Blake Walker with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Brazos Valley a 1-0 victory and close to within a game of Coppell for the Tris Speaker Division lead.
Whitmer fell just one strikeout short of the league regular-season mark of 15 and set a new Bombers team record in the process. In seven innings, he allowed just two singles and walked one. The A&M Consolidated product struck out the side in the first and fourth and struck out two Copperheads in each of three other innings.
Whitmer didn’t pick up a decision, though, because when he handed the ball to reliever Tyler Davis (1-0) to open the eighth inning, the Bombers were locked in a 0-0 pitcher’s duel with the Copperheads. Davis pitched two innings of scoreless relief to take the game into the bottom of the ninth – the perfect stage for Walker’s heroics.
Keith Stein led off the frame with a strong single, then Ryan Weber laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Stein over to second. Catcher Kip Masuda, whose two home runs Saturday night helped propel the Bombers to a win in Coppell, popped out for the second out in the inning. With struggling second baseman Kyle Sisney set to bat next, head coach Kevin Moulder dipped into his bench and plucked Walker to pinch-hot. Walker collected three hits in Coppell on Saturday and had been swinging a hot bat of late.
It turned out be the right move, as Walker lined a single to right-center, sending Stein home with the winning run.
That the game ended up being a scoreless deadlock until the last pitch was somewhat of a surprise. The Copperheads entered the game as the division leaders and the best-hitting team in the TCL, with a .275 team batting average. But Whitmer and Davis kept the Coppell bats in check, allowing just three singles and two walks. Only one Coppell baserunner reached second base, and the visitors never put two runners on in any inning.
In contrast, the Bombers threatened several times. The B’s loaded the bases in the first with the help of two hit batters, and they put two runners on in the second, third, and sixth innings. In addition to Walker’s plate exploits, first baseman Will Basom went 3-for-4 and Stein added a pair of singles.
The Bombers go on the road to visit Weatherford on Wednesday night and Denton on Thursday. The team returns home for a pair of games over the weekend, starting with Saturday night’s contest with the Duncanville Deputies. Saturday is also Bombers Baseball Giveaway Night, where the first 500 fans through the gates will receive a keepsake logo baseball, presented by Infinity Pro Design. Sunday is a Bombers Kids Club Sunday, with kids receiving a D-Bat TCL mini-bat, sponsored by Mix 104.7.
After another two games on the road, the Bombers 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.
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