The Brazos Valley pitchers took the old adage of bend but don’t break to another level Saturday in defeating Baton Rouge 4-0 at Travis Field.
The Rougarou left 10 runners on base, eight in scoring position, through the first six innings against three Bombers pitchers, while Brazos Valley built a 3-0 lead thanks to a long sacrifice fly by Logan Sartori in the fourth inning and a two-run single to right field in the fifth by Ridge Rogers.
The first-place Bombers are 25-11 overall and 4-6 in the second half, while last-place Baton Rouge dropped to 9-25 and 0-7.
Baton Rouge ended the game stranding 16 men on base, including three in the ninth when reliever Joe Buckendorff got the first two outs but then walked two and gave up an infield single before striking out Lukas Polanco.
“This late in summer everyone is thin in the bullpen, and it’s never easy,” Bombers coach Brian Nelson said. “So you are always looking for that one pitch to help you get out of the game and fortunately tonight we were able to do that.”
Bombers starting pitcher Tyler Flores got out of big jams in each of the first two innings. In the first, Bryan Aguilar got caught in a rundown between third and home on a ground ball to third base for the second out. Flores then got Brennan Lambert to pop up to shortstop. Baton Rouge loaded the bases with no outs in the second on a throwing error on shortstop Logan Sartori and two walks. Kyle Flettrich lined a ball to center fielder, which Rogers caught with his momentum going toward home. He then threw out Alex Galy, who tried to score from third.
The Rougarou left the bases loaded in the fourth. Amado Almanzar inherited runners on first and second with one out. He induced a fly out to right from Flettrich, walked Aguliar and struck out Jimmy Johnson to get out of trouble.
“No doubt [we were] fortunate,” Nelson said. “Tyler just didn’t have his typical command of the zone, put himself in a lot of hitter’s counts and unfortunately walked a lot of guys. When you do that, you got to get a little baseball luck, and you have to play real good defense. We were able to get out of those jams with some plays and defense and skated through those first three innings and kept it tight.”
The only time the Rougarou went down in order was the seventh, when Cole Sichley, the Bombers’ fourth pitcher, got a groundout and two strikeouts. Sichley pitched two innings.
The Bombers could have put more pressure on the Rougarou if not for two outstanding defensive plays by shortstop Aguilar. With runners on first and third in the second, Aguilar went one step to his right to short-hop a line drive off the bat of Jordan Yeatts. He gathered himself and started the Rougarou’s second double play of the game.
An inning later, he went to his left to knock down a hard grounder by Ty Coleman, got up and threw to third, where Rogers had rounded the base and got caught in a rundown.
The Bombers picked up an insurance run in the eighth and came a step away from a fifth run when Hunter Dobbins lined a ball into the right-field corner. Sartori scored easily from second while Dobbins was waved on in an attempt for an inside-the-park home run. Dobbins attempted to avoid the tag by diving over Lambert at home but was tagged out.
“He was sending him, and it was a good send when you are up big and you got a guy busting it,” Nelson said. “Unfortunately he was thrown out, but it was definitely entertaining. It was a shot worth taking.”
The Bombers had 10 hits, three by leadoff hitter Rogers. Hunter Coleman had two, including a double that came feet from leaving the ballpark. Dobbins, a Rudder graduate, had a single in the fifth along with his late triple.
Brazos Valley pitchers never allowed more than one hit in an inning but walked 10. Lambert was the only Rougarou with more than one hit.
The Bombers host the Acadiana Cane Cutters at 7:05 p.m. Sunday.