Six was oh so sweet a number for the Brazos Valley Bombers against the Texarkana Twins on Tuesday night at Travis Park.
The Bombers snapped a tie game with six runs in the sixth inning for an 8-2 victory for the franchise’s sixth Texas Collegiate League title.
Former Rudder all-stater Hunter Dobbins and Texas A&M’s Hunter Coleman each had pivotal doubles in the sixth inning. And Dobbins, a two-way standout, put a bow on the victory by retiring the eight batters he faced.
The dog pile formed around Dobbins after the Twins’ Michael Manetta grounded out.
“It’s always great to come home and play for the hometown crowd,” Dobbins said. “Just to bring home the title here, it definitely means a lot and it’s always been a dream of mine to come back and give back.”
The Bombers (37-16), who lost to the Acadiana Cane Cutters 3-2 last year in a one-game divisional playoff series to end their quest for a sixth straight title, wiped out an 2-0 deficit against the Twins to once again rule the wooden-bat league.
“These guys won a lot of different ways this summer,” Bombers manager Brian Nelson said. “They came from behind a lot of times, they held onto leads at times. And they won with a lot of offense at times. And I think when you do that during a course of a season, it prepares you for any situation you can have in the playoffs.”
The Bombers had to comeback Tuesday. They were down 2-0 three batters into the game as the Twins’ Lee Thomas hit his ninth homer of the summer, scoring leadoff hitter Reese Durand, who singled on an 0-2 pitch.
Bombers’ starting pitcher Logan Teske and reliever Dontae Woodard helped turn things around by shutting down the Twins, who managed only one hit after the first. The Bombers put the game away in the sixth by batting around with half of the 10 batters getting hits.
“Sometimes it just takes one big hit and then everybody takes a deep breath,” Nelson said. “I think when we got those guys and then we were able to take the lead, I think everybody just kind of relaxed a little bit. And that’s when the hit parade kind of started.”
Bryant Shellenbarger dumped a single just over the shortstop’s head to start the sixth. Hunter Coleman followed with a double up the left-center field alley to score Shellenbarger. After Texarkana failed to field Ridge Rogers’ sacrifice bunt, Dobbins duplicated Coleman’s swing to drive in a pair of runs for a 5-2 lead.
“Hitting is contagious and we’ve been a very contagious type of offense all year,” Nelson said. “I think when Dobbins hit that ball we kind of rock and rolled and everybody just took a breath and it became a very confident offense.”
Dobbins’ hit knocked out Texarkana starting pitcher Zachary Goree. The Stephen F. Austin left-hander had allowed only three hits in the first five innings, but he walked four and hit a batter.
The pitching-depleted Twins were forced to put position players on the mound after Goree, helping the Bombers pad their lead. Three straight batters reached against Thomas, who moved from first base. The Bombers’ Logan Sartori made it 6-2 on an RBI popup single behind shortstop against a drawn-in infield.
Twins’ second baseman Ryne Randle moved to the mound and got his team out of the inning, but not before Chase Kemp hit a sacrifice fly and Kyle Bergeron added an RBI single.
Before the Bombers offense got cranked up in the sixth inning there were fireworks in the fifth inning with a run being scored.
Texas A&M signee Sartori opened the inning with a single to right field, but Texarkana manager Bill Clay took Sartori’s bat to the umpires, claiming it was illegal, which it was. Sartori was called out during a six-minute delay that also saw Texarkana third baseman Julian Flores change shoes.
Clay and Nelson exchanged words and even though they were 10-15 feet apart, an umpire got in front of each, escorting them back to their respective dugouts. The incident certainly riled up the partisan home crowd and seemed to spark the Bombers.
“Sometimes, things like that ignite your team and it kind of ignites them in a positive direction, and kind of puts them all in the same direction,” Nelson said. “As long as you can use something like that in a positive way, then I think it can usually help you out.”
It also helped the Bombers to have Dobbins.
The right-hander, who in his freshman season at Texas Tech played in the College World Series, ended the summer with 2 2/3 no-hit innings, throwing 30 pitches, 25 of them strikes.
Teske, the right-hander from Southeastern Oklahoma State, set the tone by retiring 13 straight after giving up the homer with few balls hit hard as he struck out four and walked one.
“Part of the reason we started him today because of the personality he has,” Nelson said. “He’s pretty even-keeled. He doesn’t get bothered by a lot of things. That’s what we kind of needed.”
Woodard (6-0) struck out the side in sixth as the team’s winningest pitcher this summer worked around a one-out single by Randle. The left-hander from Texas State, though, hit a batter and walked a batter around a strikeout in the seventh, so Nelson brought in Dobbins.
The second-year Twins (24-27), in the playoffs for the first time, had some hiccups on defense that helped the Bombers to tie the game.
Cole Coker hit a two-out double down the left-field line, allowing Dobbins to score from first as the Twins’ Matthew Kissamis couldn’t cleanly field the baseball. Rogers got things going by walking with one-out.
The Bombers tied the game in the fourth when Dobbins lined a single into right field that the Twins’ Hudson Hopkins kicked, allowing Coleman to score from second. Cole-man reached on a walk as Goree was upset for not getting a strike call on a 2-2 pitch off the outsider corner.
“It helps being the catcher, knowing where the zone is,” Coleman said. “So, when it’s a little bit off the plate, you know what he’s calling, so it helps a lot.”
That sequence of pitches paid off in his next at-bat as he ripped a 2-1 fastball.
“He threw a lot of fastballs that game,” Coleman said. “I was just staying on the heater, looking for something to hit in the middle of the field and we got it.”
The Twins, who ousted the defending champion Victoria Generals in the divisional best-of-3 round, scored 18 runs in two losses last week against the Bombers but couldn’t get any offense other than Thomas’ homer.