The Acadiana Cane Cutters continued their strong second-half start in the Texas Collegiate League with a 6-4 victory over the Brazos Valley Bombers on Wednesday night at Travis Park.
The Cane Cutters, who never trailed, banged out 13 hits with five players getting multiple hits. Acadiana relievers Reed Spenrath and Will Ripoll combined for four scoreless innings when the lead dwindled to one as Acadiana beat the Bombers for the third time in four days. It was a complete reversal from the first half when the Cane Cutters had their worst first-half start going 6-19 to finish last in the five-team league after being in the championship series last year.
“Our chemistry [has changed] 100 percent,” Spenrath said. “We were all here and there. Pitching, we’d get somebody to do good, then our hitting wouldn’t be good.”
Acadiana (9-20, 3-1) showed signs of putting it together at the end of the first half by beating the second-place Victoria Generals twice. They’ve built on that by taking three from the five-time champion Bombers (22-8, 1-3), who won the first half going away, including a 4-0 record against Acadiana.
Spenrath, who was a redshirt freshman at Texas A&M this past season, pitched three innings to get the victory and Ripoll followed with three scoreless innings to pick up save.
The Bombers twice pulled within a run, but the aggressive Cane Cutters added an insurance run in the eighth with two outs after having a runner thrown out trying to steal second. No. 9 hitter Cordell Bowie singled home Hunter LeBlanc, who had doubled for the final run.
The Bombers, who won 4-1 Tuesday as Cole Coker and Chase Kemp combined for five hits, got a leadoff single by pinch hitter Coker to start the ninth, but Ripoll returned the next three batters.
The Cane Cutters built an early lead by roughing up Bombers’ starting pitcher Tyler Flores for nine hits in four innings. Champ Artigues had a two-out, two-run single in the fourth to make it 4-0. Acadiana had been 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position until Artigues knocked in Zach Mazur and Bowie, who had both singled.
After the Bombers answered with three runs in the bottom of the fourth, the Cane Cutters pushed the lead to 5-3 in large part because of Alex Hannie. He was hit by a pitch after Cameron Dobbs opened the inning with a single. That momentum fizzled as Bombers’ third baseman Sam McElreath started a double play. But on a 3-1 pitch to the next batter Hannie stole third as the ball bounced to the backstop. Hannie never slowed rounding third, scoring just ahead of the tag via a head-first slide.
Hannie had been easily the game’s worst base runner to that point. He failed to score in the second inning, sliding into third base as his base coaching was waving him home as the Bombers were mishandling the ball in the outfield. That proved costly as Acadiana loaded the bases with no outs, but didn’t score.
Hannie in the third sliced a line drive down the right-field line that ended up in the Acadiana bullpen, allowing a hustling Dobbs to score all the way from first, but Hannie made it only to first.
The Bombers knocked Acadiana starting pitcher Bailey Hargrave out with four straight hits in the fourth. A double down the third-base line by Texas A&M signee Logan Satori scored McElreath, who had crushed a double that center fielder Ryan Carr managed to get a glove on. Tyler Cauley, who joined the Bombers this week, plated two with a double into the right-field corner to make it 4-3.
The Bombers’ rally was diffused as Tyler Smith greeted Spenrath with a line drive but right fielder Hannie made a diving catch. Spenrath retired the next two batters. The right-hander was touched for a run in the fifth because of a mammoth leadoff triple to the 400-foot sign in center field by Bryant Shellenbarger, but that was it for the Bombers’ offense.
Spenreth, who was recruited by Acadiana to play the infield, struck out two and walked one, allowing only the one hit. The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder had trouble locating his curve, but stayed ahead in the count.
“I had to find some other things and being ahead in the count made people guess,” Spenreth said. “I hit my spots and it really worked for me.”
He was at this best against A&M teammates Hunter Coleman and Ty Coleman and future teammate Satori, who all made outs.
“I just said I have to bore down and get this outs for my team,” Spenreth said. “It was a close game, I can’t just put this on me and be selfish.”
That being said, “it felt good to get them out,” Spenreth added.
It was Spenreth’s longest outing since coach Ricky Van Asselberg recruited him to pitch.
“My coach came up to me and said, ‘Hey, can you throw?’” Spenreth said. “I said, ‘Sure, go ahead and put me in there.’”
When Spenreth finished A&M fall practice he was told by coach Rob Childress to focus this summer on being a position player.
“Hopefully, he’ll change his mind,” Spenreth said with a smile.
Spenrath, who didn’t bat in the game, had a 6-for-6 effort on June 8 against Texarkana with a double and four runs batted in. He hit a two-run homer in a 9-4 win over the Twins on June 4.
NOTES – Artigues had three hits for Acadiana while Dobbs, Mazur and Bowie each had two. Shellenbarger had a pair of triples and Sartori added two hits. … Acadiana’s Trace Henry, who was hit the jaw by a pitch in Tuesday’s game went to Scott & White Hospital to be treated was on the bench. … The Bombers will be at Victoria (21-11, 3-1) on Thursday and Friday.