By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The Belton Tigers Baseball took to the road to take on an improved Killeen Ellison Baseball team at The Eagles Nest Tuesday night.
Cameron Whitman threw six innings of one-hit baseball and 10 different Tigers had base hits in a ball game that was marred by springtime weather, as the Tigers won the ballgame 11-4 in a game that was not as close as the score indicated.
The heavy mist that started at the beginning of the ballgame proceeded into a light rain that fell for the first six innings of the game and then went into foggy conditions. It was as if Lock Ness weather found The Eagles Nest and had a seat for a couple of hours.
The Tigers jumped on Ellison starting pitcher Edward Eakin early in the second inning. Following a Nathan Vail walk, Reese Hohhertz doubled to the left centerfield gap and score Vail. Miguel Quinones grounded out to second baseman Kenneth Rodriguez to score Hohhertz, making the score 2-0.
Meanwhile, the Eagles were tasked to attempt to get on base against Whitman. Despite the deteriorating field conditions and slick baseballs, Whitman dominated the Eagles lineup. He retired the first nine Ellison hitters, striking out the first five.
Whitman pitched his way out of trouble in the fourth inning, as an error got Brett Pagel on base with one out. Whitman was able to induce Jose Ubiles into a fielder’s choice, in which Whitman threw to Brandon Rudy to force out Pagel. Garet Douglas grounded to Rudy at second base and he flipped the ball to an awaiting Quinones at the bag to retire the side.
Belton broke the game open in the top of the fifth inning, as nine Tigers came to the plate. Quinones started the festivities with a double in the left centerfield gap. Rudy’s sacrifice bunt moved Quinones to third base and Breck Potvin singled Quinones home to put the Tigers ahead 3-0. Trey Bell walked, moving Potvin to second and Hobey Hiland’s groundout moved the pair up 90 feet. Potvin scored on a wild pitch and Collin Mask singled in Bell to increase the Tigers lead to five runs, 5-0. Trent Stafford doubled Mask to third base and Vail walked. Hohhertz was caught looking on a tough third strike call and the bases were left loaded.
Whitman struck out the side in the fifth inning, keeping the Eagles batters guessing.
The Tigers plated four runs in the sixth inning on some heads-up base running. Quinones started the rally once again, singling up the middle. He stole second base and Rudy singled him to third base. After Potvin walked, Bell hit a hard liner off of first baseman Ethan Lewandoski’s glove to score Quinones. Ellison head coach Ty Opperman lifted Eakin for Noah Stephens and was tasked with a bases-loaded situation. A four-pitch walk to Hiland forced in Rudy to make the score 7-0 and kept the bases loaded. Mask hit a sky-high pop up into the drizzly night sky for an infield fly rule out. However, Rodriguez had trouble locating the ball in the air and let the ball drop on the infield. Potvin broke for the plate from third base in the confusion and beat the throw to make the score 7-0. Bell also advanced to third on the play and scored on Xavier Haines sacrifice fly to make the score 9-0.
Whitman struck out the first two batters in the sixth inning and then walked Julian Jiminez. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Pagel reached base on a single, the first hit of the game for Ellison and moved Jiminez to third base. Pagel took off for second on a 1-0 pitch and Mask threw down to second. The slick baseball took off over second base and went into the outfield, scoring Jiminez to break the shutout. After a walk to Ubiles, Douglas hit a dying liner down the left field line. Potvin had a bead on it and make an excellent shoestring catch to retire the side.
The Tigers put up a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning, by way of the Big Red bench. Tyler Rhea walked, Mark Reynolds singled, Andrew Kendall moved the pair up a base with a deep fly out to centerfield. A wild pitch during Tyler Kastner’s at-bat scored Rhea and Aaron Krueger’s single knocked home Reynolds to make the score 11-1.
Ellison scratched out three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning off Tiger reliever Shane Mejia. Stephens doubled with one out, Rodriguez and Mills walked to load the bases, Alijha Alford singled in Stephens, an error scored Rodriguez and a wild pitch scored Mills to bring the Eagles back to within seven runs. Pagel reached base on an error and a wild pitched moved he and Mills to second and third base respectively. Mejia struck Ubiles to end the ballgame.
Quinones had the only multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Quinones, Mask and Potvin all scored two runs each.
“We struggled a little bit offensively, but we got there and started putting balls on the ground and down the line and obviously that helped us down the road,” Belton head coach Eddie Cornblum said. “But other than that, Whitman pitched great on the mound and helped us get a win.”
Whitman picked up the win on the hill, going six complete innings. He allowed one run on one hit, striking out 11 and walking just two in deteriorating conditions.
“Cameron kept them in check,” Cornblum said. “His off-speed stuff was great tonight. His velocity was up. He threw well.”
The Tigers will take on Waco Midway in Belton Baseball’s annual Home Run 4 Health/McLane Champion Children night on Friday night at Tiger Field. The pregame festivities start at 6:15 p.m. and game time is 7 p.m. The game can be heard on KTEM-AM 1400, KTEMNews.com and on the Radio Pup Application starting at 6:45 p.m.
Belton will host Class 6A No. 4-ranked Lake Travis Saturday afternoon at Tiger Field, starting at 2 p.m. That game can also be heard on KTEM-AM 1400, KTEMNews.com and the Radio Pup Application starting at 2 p.m.