By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The Belton Tigers Baseball team traveled to Highland Park last Thursday to play at the 2017 Scotland Yard Classic.
The Tigers experienced the joy of a game-ending score and the frustration of a walk-off hit on defense during the two-game set on Highland Park’s home diamond.
Thursday started with a game against Denton Guyer, who had just suffered a walk-off experience against Highland Park moments before their game with the Tigers.
Much to the chagrin of the Wildcats, they suffered their second letdown of the day.
Belton led 4-0, trailed 8-4 and led 10-8 before Guyer tied the score in the top of the seventh inning. Breck Potvin scored on a 2-2 wild pitch to John Taggart to give the Tigers an 11-10 win.
Potvin was instrumental from start to finish in the ball game. He singled and scored on an error in the first inning, scored on Remington Lutz’s single in the third inning, doubled in the fourth inning, walked to force in Taggart in the fifth inning, and singled in the seventh to set up his score in the seventh. He was 4-of-4, with a walk and two runs scored. Holden Goldston had three sacrifices in the game to help the Tigers’ efforts.
Lutz was 2-of-3 and Aaron Krueger was 2-of-4. Potvin, Lutz, Krueger, Taggart, Goldston, Drew Cook, Payton Vybiral, and Logan Earl all had a run batted in apiece. The Tigers left nine runners on base in the game.
Shane Mejia had a no-hitter through 3 2/3 innings before a rocky fifth inning knocked Belton’s ace lefty from the contest with one out in the frame. He allowed five runs (two earned) on three hits, walking four and striking out four. Dylan Blomquist pitched through his own rocky outing in 2 2/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits, walking three and striking out five in picking up the win.
In the second game of the day, the Tigers played the home standing Scots of Highland Park. Belton’s Aaron Krueger and Highland Park’s Garrett Kipp had an outstanding pitcher’s duel, but it was the Scots who came away with a 2-1 win on a bases-loaded single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Krueger took a line shot off the leg from second baseman Benner Page for a single on the first pitch of his outing. William Adair walked and Babe Walker singled him home to put the Scots up 1-0.
Vybiral singled to start the third inning and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Earl and an error. He was thrown out trying to take home plate on a passed ball that ricocheted hard off of the brick backstop wall, keeping the Tigers off of the board.
Krueger retired nine straight before a Kipp single stopped the string in the bottom of the sixth.
In the top seventh inning with Cameron Parker running for Krueger, Jorge Enciso hit routine fly ball with two outs into the right centerfield gap. Jackson Dugger and Babe Walker converged upon it, but they both pulled up short and the ball dropped in for a single to score Parker. It tied the game at 1-1.
Krueger left the ballgame and Trey Wallace pitched in the bottom of the seventh inning. Wallace struck out Patrick Shearer with a sidearm curve. Michael Clarke and Page sandwiched walks around a Nathan Smolinski single to load the bases. Belton head coach Mark Krueger brought the infield in to cut down any runner trying to score. Adair hit a sharp grounder to Potvin at shortstop and he fired to home, where Enciso stepped on the plate for the force out. With the bases still loaded and two outs, Walker hit a shot that Potvin dove for and just missed, as it rolled into left field for the game-winning hit.
Krueger pitched six innings, allowed one run on three hits, walked two and struck out three. Wallace took the loss, allowed one run on two hits, walked one and struck out two.
Lutz went 2-of-3 in the game, with Vybiral and Earl collecting the other two hits. The Tigers left four runners on base.
The Belton Tigers completed their pre-district schedule on Friday and Saturday at the 2017 Highland Park Scotland Yard Tournament.
Friday, the Tigers took on Class 5A No. 4 Prosper and Class 6A No. 8 Flower Mound at the Eagles Nest in Prosper.
The Tigers scored three runs and six hits in the second inning, supporting Remington Lutz’s solid 6 1/3 inning-outing in their 4-2 upset of the state-ranked Eagles.
Breck Potvin singled and was sacrificed to second by Logan Earl. Lutz singled home Potvin to make the score 1-0.
Prosper scored the equalizer in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI single.
Six singles and a sacrifice fly set up three runs in the next inning. Consecutive singles by Aaron Krueger, Drew Cook and Caleb Smith set up Jorge Enciso’s RBI single, Payton Vybiral’s RBI sacrifice fly and Trey Bell’s RBI single to make the score 4-1.
Lutz allowed just two hits and two walks from the second inning to the beginning of Prosper’s seventh inning and struck out four. He was lifted with one out in the seventh inning for Dylan Blomquist, who ran into trouble retiring the Eagles. A run on four singles and fielder’s choice later, Blomquist close the Eagles out to end the ballgame with the bases loaded was able to end the game.
Potvin picked up two hits to pace the Tigers’ eight-hit pace, as Belton stranded six runners.
Lutz picked up the win. He allowed one run on four hits, walked three and struck out four in 6 1/3 innings. Blomquist worked 2/3 of an inning, having allowed one run on four hits.
The Tigers faced a tough Flower Mound Jaguars team and wasted no time jumping on Belton pitching.
The Jaguars scored three runs in the first inning, one run in the third inning, two runs in the fourth inning and three runs in the fifth, as Flower Mound used eight walks, seven hits, three Tiger errors and two hit batsmen to defeat the Tigers 9-1 in six innings.
Cameron Lamm’s RBI single in the top of the sixth inning was the lone run for Belton.
Cook took the loss for the Tigers. He went four innings, allowed six runs (four earned) on five hits and walked seven. Vybiral pitched an inning of relief and allowed three runs on two hits.
On Saturday, the Tigers returned to Highland Park’s Scotland Yard to take on the Midland Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs were able to score three runs in the first inning and hold on for a 5-0 win over the Tigers.
Earl picked up the loss for the Tigers. He pitched four innings and allowed four runs on six hits, walked one and struck out one. He led the Tigers with two of the five hits on offense. Potvin pitched two innings in relief, as he allowed a run on two hits and struck out two.
Lutz, Cook and John Taggart each had hits for the Tigers in the loss.
The Tigers wrapped up the weekend 2-3 in the tournament, which has always been tough for Belton. But picking up quality wins over Denton Guyer and Prosper helped to prepare the team for the 14-game District 8-6A grind.