By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The unusual weather in Central Texas reached southwards into Round Rock and delayed the start of the 2015 Round Rock Langerhans Invitational held at Round Rock High School, Westwood High School and McNeil High Schools.
Belton played their first two games on Friday at Westwood, beating the host school 3-2 behind a 10-strikeout performance from Tanner Frick and dropping the back end of the twin bill to Fossil Ridge 6-3.
The Tigers got a combined shutout from Cameron Whitman and Kason Crowell in a 5-0 win over Lewisville and tied the game late against McNeil only to have the Mavericks score in the bottom of the seventh to beat Belton 4-3.
Both teams were retired in order in the first inning. With one out in the top of the second, Shane Stafford walked and stole two bases to move into scoring position. Chase Sortor got rung up on a pitch that was questionable at best, as a breaking ball ended up in the dirt mid-way into the left-handed batter’s box for the second out. Collin Mask was called out on an inside pitch for strike three to end the inning.
Frick picked up two strikeouts to start the second inning. A two-out walk put a runner at first. Equipped with a lethal pick-off move to first, the southpaw Frick flipped a throw to Chase Sortor at first, inducing a rundown and nice tag by Miguel Quinones to end the inning.
Dustin Tish was hit by a pitch to start the third inning. Quinones’ sacrifice bunt moved Tish to second and Coby Potvin’s groundout moved Tish to third. Nathan Santiago’s single scored Tish and put the Tigers on the board 1-0.
The Warriors picked up two unearned runs on an error in the bottom of the third to take a 2-1 lead.
Belton didn’t wait long to recoup the two runs. Stafford and Mask both reached on errors and Tish singled to make the score 3-2.
Frick retired 13 of the next 14 Warrior hitters, including the last 10 in a row to help win the game for the Tigers. He gave up just two runs on two hits, striking out 10 and walking just two.
Fossil Ridge jumped on Tigers’ starter Tish in the first inning for three runs in the first, one run in the second and two runs in the fourth before giving way to Ethan Williams.
The Tigers had just three runners through the first five innings and finally got their first hit and first run in the sixth inning. Potvin singled, Jacob Alexander reached on an error to move Potvin to third and Stafford singled in Potvin.
Following the retirement of the Panthers in order in the seventh, Reece Hohhertz singled with two outs. Mark Reynolds walked and Potvin tripled home Hohhertz and Reynolds to make the score 6-3. The Panthers retired the next hitter to win the ball game.
On Saturday afternoon, the venue moved to McNeil’s Maverick Field, as Belton’s first game of the day was against Lewisville Farmers.
Small ball got the Tigers on board in the top of the first inning. Potvin walked, Santiago sacrificed Potvin to second base and Alexander doubled in Potvin to make the score 1-0.
Belton supported Whitman again in the second inning with two outs. Hohhertz and Quinones singled to set up an RBI opportunity for Potvin. His pop-up was lost in the sun, scoring Hohhertz to make the score 2-0.
Sortor helped the cause with a solo homer over the left field wall in the top of the fourth to make the score 3-0. Whitman’s solid pitching helped induce a double play in the bottom of the inning and retired the side in the fifth inning.
The Tigers picked up single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, as Whitman paved the way for Crowell to close out the game.
Belton played the hosts from McNeil to round out the tournament and scared the Mavericks at the start. Potvin, singled and swiped second and third on passed balls. Brandon Rudy walked, stole second and Shane Stafford walked to load the bases with two outs. A groundout stranded the three runners on base.
The Tigers cracked into the run column with a one-out walk by B.P. White. He then stole second base and advanced to third base on a balk. Mark Reynolds singled in White to make the score 1-0.
Shane Stafford started a double play on defense to help his own cause on the hill, then got involved in the Tigers’ second run. Rudy singled and advanced to second base on a passed ball.
Trent Stafford walked and the pair moved up a base on another passed ball. Shane Stafford then singled home Rudy to make the score 2-0. The Tigers then loaded the bases, but a double play halted the Belton rally to just a single run.
McNeil scored three runs in the bottom of the third to take a 3-2 lead.
Belton scored run in the fifth inning. With one out, Hobey Hiland walked and stole second. Nathan Vail singled home Hiland to tie the game at 3-3. The Tigers left the bases loaded in the seventh.
Jacob Williamson came on to pitch and dealt four shutout innings before giving way to Williams in the bottom of the seventh. He run into trouble and the Mavericks closed out the game on two walks and two hits, squeezing in a run for the win.
Belton went 2-2 for the weekend and will play in the Highland Park Tournament in the Dallas-area this Thursday through Saturday. The Tigers will start the tournament with two games at Prosper High School, the first at 3 p.m. against Prosper and the second at 5:30 p.m. against Fort Smith Southside. Friday’s action will start at Highland Park High School against the Scots at 10 a.m. The venue shifts to Coppell High School for a 5:30 p.m. tilt with Sachse. The Saturday action features a pair of midday games, with the Tigers taking on Rowlett at 10 a.m. and Rockwall Heath at 12:30 p.m.
The Tigers start their District 12-6A schedule on Tuesday night in Killeen as they take on Shoemaker.