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Aviators Stumble, Lose Late in Shreveport

August 10, 2007 - American Association (AA) - Coastal Bend Aviators News Release

Friday night in Shreveport, Coastal Bend got out to an early lead but saw their tired bullpen surrender 4 runs in the seventh and eighth innings en route to an 8-7 loss.

For the first few innings the Aviators looked like they'd pick up right where they left off after Thursday night's walkoff win against Pensacola. In the top of the first, Matt Spencer hit a double to center field and Grant Richardson drew a walk before Stephen Morales brought them both home on a double to right. Shreveport answered with a run in the bottom half off starter Derrick Van Dusen to make it 2-1 Coastal Bend, but the Aviators put up three in the second.

Chase Gerdes singled and stole second before scoring on Bryon Smith's single that extended the lead to 3-1. After a two out walk to Spencer put men at first and third, Ryan Smith smacked a two run double to the warning track in left that gave Coastal Bend a four run cushion at 5-1.

The Sports got one back in their next at bat but the Aviators took a 5-2 lead to the bottom of the sixth. Van Dusen allowed a lead off single to catcher Tommy Bryant before a double by Wade Robinson plated the third run of the game for Shreveport. Robinson's ball, which came up on a bad hop to get past first baseman Bryon Smith, turned out to be a key play in the game as the next batter Austin Pride singled up the middle to bring him in. Suddenly the game had the look of a nail-biter at 5-4. Although they had another single in the inning, Shreveport could add no more runs and Van Dusen left with the lead.

The Aviators pushed back in the seventh with a run on Brian Fryer's triple to right center and Spencer's RBI single through the right side. Leading 7-5 the Aviators handed the ball to reliever Miguel Martinez. He walked the first man he faced, hit the next batter, and walked another to load the bases with no one out. But he got Juan Ventura to ground to first and Smith's throw home was in time for the first out. Robinson then hit a sacrifice fly to left that drew Shreveport within a run for the second time at 6-5. Martinez escaped the jam by striking out Pride to retire the side.

In the eighth, the Aviator offense responded yet again when Phillip Grau singled and Ryan Smith tripled to right center to give Coastal Bend a 7-5 advantage.

But in the bottom half, Martinez again walked the first batter, this time the lead off man Deacon Burns, and gave up singles to Jack Joffrion and Chad Gambill to load the bases. Attempting to pull the Houdini act for the second straight inning, Martinez coaxed a tapper to the mound. He fielded and threw home for one and catcher Stephen Morales threw on to first for a 1-2-3 double play. That brought reliever Jon Hunton in from the bullpen with 2 out and runners on second and third. Hunton threw 2 full count pitches to Justin Humphries before he missed with ball four. With the bases loaded for the third time in two innings, the Sports finally cashed in. Catcher Tommy Bryant singled down the left field line and all three runnners came around to give Shreveport their first lead of the night 8-7.

The Aviators put a man aboard with two out in the ninth but had no more miracles in them as Morales grounded out to end it. The loss was even more damaging to the Aviators hopes given that first place Fort Worth was victorious at St. Paul to widen their lead to 6 games over Coastal Bend.

Reliever Brandon Hudson (2-2) was the winning pitcher for the Sports and Matt Clayman earned his 4th save of the year by pitching the scoreless ninth. Hunton (1-2) took the loss for the Aviators. Game two of the three game set is tomorrow at 7:05pm and can be heard locally on KOPY 92.1 FM. The game will not be available online.

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