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East Texas PumpJacks add 3 Rice Owls to the Roster


If Webster’s Dictionary had a definition for “pitching factory”, it might look something like this:

PITCHING FACTORY: A school that has built a reputation upon the development of top-quality pitchers, using a dominant pitching staff to repeatedly win conference championships and become a mainstay at the College World Series. See also: RICE UNIVERSITY.
Rice has ridden its pitching staff to 13 consecutive conference championships and seven trips to the College World Series in Omaha. This summer, the Pump Jacks look to bring some of that magic to Driller Park with the signing of Rice pitchers Abel Gonzales, Mark Haynes, and Matt Reckling.

Gonzales currently boasts the lowest ERA on the Rice staff at 1.17, along with a 1-0 record in eight relief appearances. The lefthander has allowed six hits and he hasn’t walked a batter in 7.2 innings, holding opposing hitters to a paltry .222 average. Gonzales chipped in 1.2 scoreless innings in the Owls’ extra-inning victory over Lamar last night.

The redshirt sophomore is a dual threat capable of producing at the plate as well. While all of his action this year has been on the hill, last year he only made appearances at the plate. Gonzales saw action in ten games, five of them starts, with an average of .176. He had picked up steam by going 3-for-5 in a late March series against Southern Miss, but his season was derailed when he was injured in a collision that sidelined him the rest of the spring.

Gonzales recovered in time for summer ball, reporting to the Duluth Huskies of the Northwoods League. He went 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA in five appearances, three of them as a starter. In 21 innings, he struck out 13 and walked only six.

The Houston native starred at St. Thomas High School, helping lead the school to a state title in 2004 as a sophomore. That championship campaign was the first of three straight seasons in which Gonzales was named to both all-state and all-district teams. In his prep career, he posted a 27-9 record and sub-2.00 ERA, as well as a .360 batting average.

In each of the last three years, Rice has advanced to the College World Series – and Haynes has been a part of the Owls program every year. A picture of perseverance, Haynes was redshirted in 2006 and didn’t play again in 2007 as he continued to recover from injury. He finally earned playing time in 2008, no small feat considering Rice’s traditional pitching depth.

Last spring, Haynes appeared in nine games, notching a save and a 3.46 ERA. In 13 innings he allowed only 11 hits and held opponents to a .220 average. Haynes saved his best for when it counted most, holding hitters to a .167 average with a 1.12 ERA when facing teams that went on to play in the NCAA tournament. He went on to a productive season with the Sierra League’s Clovis Outlaws.

His evolution into a solid contributor has continued into this season. In nine appearances, eight of them out of the bullpen, Haynes has a 2.57 ERA, ranking fourth on the Owls’ staff. In 14 innings pitched, he’s allowed 15 hits and four walks, striking out nine.

Haynes prepped at Austin High School in his hometown of Sugar Land, where he was a three-year starter. He posted a stunning 0.97 ERA as a senior with 30 strikeouts in 21.2 innings.

Reckling might be the youngest of the three Pump Jacks from Rice, but he’s already making his presence felt. Though the righthander has a 5.93 ERA, he has 14 strikeouts in 13.2 innings, allowing just 12 hits and holding opposing hitters to a .255 average.

Legendary head coach Wayne Graham may have tipped his hand as to Reckling’s potential when he gave the true freshman his first collegiate start last week against Texas. Facing a Longhorns squad that Baseball America ranked #1 in the country at the time, Reckling shined. He went four innings, allowing just two hits and one run, walking one batter and striking out four. Reckling’s efforts kept Texas at bay, helping the Owls to a 6-3 victory.

Reckling hails from The Kinkaid School in Houston’s western suburbs. A three-time all-conference honoree, the 6’4” Reckling has developed a fastball that now tops out in the low 90’s.

Gonzales, Haynes, and Reckling join the three Pump Jacks announced last week – Texas A&M’s Chad Sherman, and A.J. Casario and Ian Schwalenberg, both of the University of Maryland. The Jacks’ roster is nearly complete, so fans can expect more roster announcements in the coming weeks. This and every Monday, the Pump Jacks’ weekly update will share the progress being made by our newest Pump Jacks, as well as all the news from fan favorites from the inaugural season.

With many of this year’s players coming to East Texas from across the country, the Pump Jacks are actively seeking host families for this summer. Host families enjoy the opportunity to have a potential future major leaguer live with them, forging a bond that lasts a lifetime. As an added bonus, host families receive FREE season tickets for everyone in their household. Click here or contact the Pump Jacks for more information.

The 2009 season is scheduled to begin on Friday, June 5, when the Pump Jacks host the league’s newest team, the Victoria Generals. The 48-game regular season will run through August 8, to be followed by the playoffs and TCL Championship Series. Fans can download a copy of the team’s schedule by clicking here.

Season tickets are currently on sale, with ticket packages starting as low as $105 – and $85 for children and seniors – for all 24 regular season home games. Box seat season tickets are also available, including Lower Box seats, which feature in-your-seat wait service all game long, every game. For more information on Pump Jacks season tickets, click here or contact the Jacks office at (903) 218-GO ET.

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