The Brazos Valley Bombers continued their season-high five-game, four-day road trip Wednesday night with a visit to Mineral Wells, where the Bombers beat the Steam, 12-5. The B’s pounded out a season-high 17 hits in the victory, highlighted by a five-run fifth inning in which Brazos Valley sent nine batters to the plate.
The win not only avenges a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Hornsby Division’s last place team less than two weeks ago, but it also maintains the Bombers’ lead in the Speaker Division race. Brazos Valley continues to hold a half-game lead over the Coppell Copperheads, who also won Wednesday. The Duncanville Deputies are in third place, three and a half games behind the Bombers, pending the results of their Wednesday contest. The Colleyville LoneStars, who fell to Coppell, slipped to four games back in the race. The top two teams in the division qualify for the TCL playoffs, which begin on Monday, August 6.
Early on, the game was a back-and-forth affair. The Steam took a lead in the second off of starter John Touchton when Josh Vander Hey lofted a double that left fielder Tim Palincsar lost in the sun, allowing Bo Coffman to score.
The B’s offense began to heat up in the top of the third. Chris Wallace led off with a single, then TJ Mittelstaedt drew a one-out walk. Mark McGonigle drove both runners home with a double off the wall that gave the Bombers their first lead of the night, 2-1.
Touchton got a little wild in the home half of the third, allowing a single and two walks to load the bases before walking in the tying run. But again the B’s responded with a pair of runs in the next half inning. Blake Walker was drilled by a pitch with a full count to become a leadoff baserunner, then he stole second. Joseph Towns dropped an RBI single in right field to give the Bombers a lead they would not relinquish. Towns then circled the bases when he advanced on a groundout, moved to third on a balk, and scored on a wild pitch to make it a 4-2 game.
Any hope the Steam had of coming back was dashed in the fifth. The Bombers opened the frame with four straight hits, including an RBI double by Will Basom that scored Nick Anders and a Walker single through the left side to plate McGonigle. That sent Mineral Wells starter Ryan Goins to the showers and brought on the bullpen, which didn’t fare much better. Towns grounded into a fielder’s choice that brought Basom home, then moved to second when a delivery squirted away from the Steam catcher. Kip Masuda singled and Towns beat the play at the plate for the Bombers fourth run of the inning. Masuda went to third on a single by Wallace, then scored when Palincsar bounced into a fielder’s choice to make the score 9-2.
Mineral Wells took a few steps closer in the sixth inning when Vander Hey got a three-run homer off of Touchton. But the Brazos Valley starter collected himself to get out of the inning without any further damage and collect his ‘W’. Touchton went six full innings, allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out nine.
The Bombers added a run in the seventh and two more in the ninth to ice the game. In the seventh inning, Walker collected an infield single and scored on a Towns double that he tried unsuccessfully to stretch into his first triple of the season.
In the ninth, Walker dropped down a one-out bunt single and Towns bounced off the pitcher for an infield single. Masuda doubled Walker home, and Towns scored when Palincsar hit a grounder the shortstop couldn’t handle.
Evan Cox pitched two scoreless innings and struck out a pair of Steam hitters. Brice Ary put a few runners on in the ninth, but he coaxed a bases-loaded flyout to end the game.
Walker led the Bombers offense by going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI. Walker has been on fire of late, hitting safely in five of his last six games, including three multi-hit games, for a 10-for-22 (.455) stretch.
Towns also posted three hits with two runs scored, while Anders, McGonigle, Masuda, and Wallace added two hits apiece.
The B’s final road trip of the regular season continues with a visit to the McKinney Marshals on Thursday, followed by yet another stop in Duncanville on Friday.
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.
Sunday is Fan Appreciation Day and marks the final game of the regular season. All fans entering the park will receive a coupon good for a free ice cream at McDonald’s, and hot dogs and hamburgers will be just $1 all game long.
The TCL playoffs will begin next week, with the two division winners hosting the Division Series opener on Monday, August 6. The best-of-three series will shift so the second-place teams can host Game Two on Tuesday. If a deciding Game Three is necessary, it will be played on Wednesday back at the home of the division champs.
The Championship Series, also a best-of-three affair, will open next Friday, August 10.
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