BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas (June 9, 2021) — A multi-inning rally Wednesday night gave the Brazos Valley Bombers the upperhand in the team’s 8-4 victory over the Amarillo Sod Squad.
Coming off of a two-game slump, the Bombers knew something needed to change if the team is to claim its third straight Texas Collegiate League championship. Margaritaville Wednesday at Edible Field proved to be the perfect opportunity to do so, rallying from behind in the first of a two-game series against Amarillo. The Bombers now hold a 2-1 edge over the Sod Squad in the 2021 season and hope to make it 3-1 after Thirsty Thursday on June 10, featuring $1 beers and sodas all night long.
Bombers head coach James Dillard said a new offensive playing style paved the way for the navy and gold’s always-important Wednesday victory.
“We were more aggressive on the bases,” Dillard said. “We did that, played some small ball and took advantage of two-out situations. When you do all that, good things happen. That’s what you have to do in this league.”
The Sod Squad struck early, bringing a runner home in the top of the first with the help of a line drive single to right field. Amarillo tried to repeat its success in the second inning, but an absolute cannon shot from Bombers right fielder Alex Vegara caught the runner on the base path, preventing any further damage. Vegara said he planned for the specific situation in advance, fully prepared to make the play at home.
“I told myself that if there was a ground ball, the kid on second would try and take four,” Vegara said. “As soon as the ball was hit, I came up and got him. It felt awesome.”
The Bombers rallied back in the bottom of the fourth, notching three runs to tie the score. Third baseman Troy Viola and shortstop Bobby Lada found their way on base, then were brought home on a two-RBI single into the center field gap by first baseman Shelby Becker. Grayson Tatrow, who later reached first on a walk, soon knotted things at three after a wild pitch allowed the left fielder to steal home.
Amarillo took the lead for the second time of the night in the top of the sixth when another line drive to center field scored a runner from second base, setting the new score at 4-3. A bases-loaded situation threatened more, but a three-strikeout inning by pitcher Zach Poe spoiled the Sod Squad’s party.
Building off of Poe’s dominance, the Bombers walked into the bottom of the inning looking to take the lead for the first time of the evening. Lada secured first after getting pegged by an ill-aimed fastball, then immediately stole second base. A sacrifice bunt by center fielder Drew Collins advanced Lada to third, who then scored on a line drive single to right field by Daniel Altman. The second baseman immediately stole both second and third, then made it home on an Amarillo throwing error to give the Bombers a 5-4 lead.
The Bombers extended the gap in the seventh. Designated hitter Ryan Snell dropped a fly ball into the outfield, then pinch runner PJ Villareal took over. In his second hit of the night, Lada brought Villareal home with a single to center field, giving Brazos Valley a 6-4 edge.
The night’s final daggers came in the bottom of the eighth when Collins chopped from first all the way to home plate on a single by Altman and a throwing error by the Sod Squad. Altman then closed out the night’s scoring, reaching home on a wild pitch and locking the final score at 8-4. Lada, who notched two runs, an RBI and a perfect 1.000 on-base percentage en route to becoming the team’s Player of the Game, said a mentality shift allowed him to lead the navy and gold offense to victory.
“I finally learned from the first couple of games I played,” Lada said. “I was trying too hard. If you do that while you’re hitting, you’re going to strike out, so I just went up and made it happen.”
Seven Bombers pitchers came together in Wednesday’s victory, striking out 12 while placing 117 pitches in the strike zone across 43 batters. Poe and Grant Wood led the night, retiring three batters each.
After Wednesday’s series-opening matchup, Brazos Valley climbs to a 5-4 record while Amarillo falls to 5-3 on the season. In the opposing teams’ battle for second place in the TCL, game two will take place Thursday, June 10 at Edible Field. With first pitch set for 7:05 p.m., all fans in attendance will be treated to the team’s weekly Thirsty Thursday featuring $1 beer and soda.
With league playoff spots still up for grabs, Lada said Thursday’s matchup is shaping up to be a must-win for the Brazos Valley squad.
“We just need to focus on being consistent,” Lada said. “If we can keep our momentum going, we’ll do some great things on the field.”
For tickets and updates on the Bombers 2021 season, fans are encouraged to call (979) 779-PLAY or visit www.bvbombers.com. To follow all upcoming news and developments for the Brazos Valley Bombers, follow the team on facebook.com/bvbombers, Twitter: @BV_Bombers and Instagram: @bvbombers.
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