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Aviators top Sports, 4-3, in thrilling extra inning affair

August 9, 2004 - Central Baseball League (Central League) - Coastal Bend Aviators News Release

ROBSTOWN, TX – A bases-loaded groundout by J.R. Cortez in the bottom of the 11th inning was enough to push across the winning run as the Coastal Bend Aviators nipped the Shreveport Sports 4-3 Sunday before 1,690 at Fairgrounds Field in Robstown, Texas. The Aviators won their second straight and in the process picked up ground on Amarillo in the race for the West Division’s second and final playoff spot.

Coastal Bend opened the scoring in the bottom of the 1st against Shreveport starting pitcher Ira Brown, as Greg Strickland slid home safely on the front end of a double steal. Aviators starter Jose Luis Lopez made the lead stand up until the 3rd when Shreveport knotted things up on an RBI single by Bobby Gilliam…the Sports then went out in front in the 4th when Michael Hicks doubled home Jorge Alvarez. Eric Battersby helped Coastal Bend regain the lead in the bottom of the 5th by clubbing a two-run homer over the left field wall (his second in as many night), putting the Aviators back in front 3-2.

With Lopez still on the mound, Shreveport tied the game in the 7th when Hicks walked, went to third on a Bryan Loeb single and scored on Tony Schifano’s sacrifice fly down the right field line. The Sports had a chance to take the lead in the 9th, loading the bases with one out, but Aviators reliever Jorge Huerta got Derek Patterson to ground into an inning-ending double play. It stayed tied until the Aviators plated the game-winner in the bottom of the 11th – Strickland led off the inning with a walk and stole second, then advanced to third on an infield single by Battersby. Marcus Knight struck out against Shreveport reliever Carl Makowsky, with Battersby stealing second on the third strike. Trey Salinas was walked intentionally, setting the stage for Cortez, who bounced the first Makowsky offering down the third base line…Patterson gloved the ball, looked towards the plate as Strickland was streaking home, but instead threw to first to get Cortez. Strickland crossed the plate without a play, giving the Aviators a hard-fought extra-inning victory.

Huerta (1-0) tossed two-and-two-thirds innings of scoreless relief to pick up his first professional win; Joe Kantz (1-4), the third of four pitchers used by Shreveport, took the loss. The Aviators had 10 hits on the night, with Battersby and Cris Colon each going 3-for-5…the Sports had 14 hits in a losing effort, with former Aviator Bryan Loeb leading the way with a 4-for-5 performance. Sunday’s win improved the Aviators second half record to 14-22 (38-46 overall) and moved Coastal Bend to within four games of Amarillo in the West Division playoff race (the Dillas lost to Pensacola 6-5)…Shreveport slipped to 16-20 in the second half and 43-40 on the year. The finale of the four-game series is set for Monday afternoon at Fairgrounds Field and will feature a battle of lefthanders as Matt Rohr (0-1) takes the mound for Coastal Bend, while Shreveport counters with Keith Black (6-5).

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