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Pump Jacks come home on high note

By Jack Stallard
June 5, 2012 at 11 p.m.


The East Texas Pump Jacks are heading home with a spotless record and on the heels of a milestone win for their head coach.

East Texas (3-0) will play host to the Texas Marshals (0-3 heading into Tuesday's game) in a 7:05 p.m. contest tonight at Driller Park in Kilgore.

The Pump Jacks are coming off an 11-6 win at Alexandria on Monday. That win not only kept East Texas perfect on the young season - with all three wins coming on the road - it put coach Ben Taylor at the top of the list among Texas Collegiate League coaches with a 101-56-1 record as he starts his fourth season.

"It's exciting," said Taylor, who passed former Brazos Valley coach Brent Alumbaugh to become the league's top winner. "It's funny though. During the game, one of our returning players told me I was the same guy if I had one win or 101. I got on them a little. ...just reminding them and teaching them the Pump Jack way. It's real easy to check out mentally when you get a big lead. Was I thinking about it (the career mark) at times? Yes. But you have to stay focused on the task at hand."

Taylor joked that earning the record away from Driller Park drew the ire of his most ardent supporter.

"My wife actually told me she hoped we started the season 2-1 so we could break the record at home," he said with a laugh. "The big thing in all of this is that my wife, Mandy, has been so supportive and has backed me all the way. This goes to her and her commitment to me and her willingness to allow me to chase this game."

The Pump Jacks have won in crisp, clean fashion - a 3-1 victory over the Marshals to open the season - in dramatic fashion with a 10th inning, go-ahead home run by Tyler Girouard in a 9-8 victory over Alexandria on Sunday and by simply gutting one out like Monday's 11-6 win.

The hitting has been clutch, led by R.J. Sandigate (.500, 3B, 4 runs scored) an Girouard (.364, HR, 2B, 4 runs scored). In Monday's game, leadoff man Logan Davis went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Whitte Dorsey added three hits and drove in three runs. Colton Bickerstaff went 2-for-3, and No. 8 hitter Louie Helmburg drove in two runs.

"What's nice is that everybody we have right now has pitched or played," Taylor said. "We've seen every player and that helps us know what we've got. To do that and be 3-0. ...you can't ask for much more."

The pitching has been solid, including Monday starter and winner Kyle Kubat. He worked 5 1/3 innings, striking out six, walking three and scattering five hits.

"Pitching-wise, I think we're right on track," Taylor said. "There was a lot of adrenaline on the mound the last few nights, but usually the second inning with a guy is better than the first once that guy gets the jitters out."

Taylor said despite the spotless record, the team hasn't been perfect. ...especially in the field.

"We've got to play better defense," he said. "We put ourselves in some bad situations with our infield defense. We've made some mistakes and gotten away with them, but we made it a lot tougher on ourselves than it should be. Over the course of the summer if you make pitchers throw extra pitches it adds up, maybe not now but in July."

NOTES: East Texas will host Alexandria on Thursday, visit Brazos Valley on Friday and then play three in a row at home - hosting The Woodlands on Saturday and Sunday and Victoria on Tuesday.

(Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lnjsports).

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