The game’s only error gave the Brazos Valley Bombers a 5-4, 12-inning victory and a sweep of their Texas Collegiate League’s best-of-3 divisional series over the Acadiana Cane Cutters on Sunday night at Travis Field.
Acadiana third baseman Fisher Norris fielded a ground ball and threw to second base for the second out of the 12th, but Champ Artigues’ relay throw was wild, allowing the Bombers’ Bryant Shellenbarger to easily score, ending the 3-hour, 46-minute thriller that had been tied since the third.
The Bombers (36-15) advance to play for the wooden-bat league’s title at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at Travis Field. The defending champion Victoria Generals grabbed a 9-1 victory over the Texarkana Twins on Sunday night to tie that series. They’ll play the rubber game Monday.
The Cane Cutters (18-34), who eliminated the five-time defending champion Bombers last year with a 3-2 win when the divisional matchups were only one game, saw their season end despite not allowing a hit in the last four innings.
Acadiana reliever Bryson Broussard, who got the last out of the ninth to strand a pair of runners, walked Shellenbarger on eight pitches to start the 12th. Shellenbarger moved to second on Chase Kemp’s groundout. The Cane Cutters intentionally walked pinch-hitter Hunter Coleman. Sam McElreath hit a grounder to the left of Norris who easily fielded the ball to get the out at second, but the relay throw was well over the first baseman’s head.
The Bombers’ Henry Bird was the winning pitcher, going a solid 4 2/3 innings. The A&M-Corpus Christi sophomore struck out six with no walks. He gave up three hits, pitching around a leadoff double in the 12th by Alex Hannie. Fellow right-hander John Altman threw three solid shutout innings, striking out four with one walk and two hits.
Acadiana Cane Cutter starter Drew Boyd bounced back from a rough start to go 7 1/3 innings. The Southern Miss left-hander allowed 11 hits but at one point the Bombers had only 1 hit in 16 at-bats until Hunter Dobbins and McElreath came up with back-to-back hits in the eighth but Acadiana relievers Reed Spenrath (Texas A&M) and Hunter Meche came up with big pitches to keep the game tied.
The game had an explosive start with the teams combining for eight runs in three innings before pitching dominated.
The Bombers scored two runs in the first and two more in the third, each time taking the lead.
Cole Coker singled to open the Bombers’ first and scored on a triple by Logan Sartori who came home on Chase Kemp’s single for a 2-1 lead.
The Bombers took a 4-3 lead in the third on three straight hits. Shellenbarger had an infield hit and Kemp doubled to right. They both scored on Dobbins’ single.
The Cane Cutters scored in each of the first three innings. An infield hit by Trace Henry and back-to-back fielders’ choices loaded the bases in the first with no outs, but all Acadiana could get against Bombers’ starter Reece Easterling was a based-loaded walk by Norris.
Ryan Carr had a two-run single in the second for a 3-2 lead. Acadiana used small ball to score its run in the third, cashing a leadoff walk to Tremaine Spears. He reached second on an infield hit, third on a wild pitch, scoring on a fielders’ choice via a nifty head-first dive.