By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
Great pitching and solid defense are two key ingredients to a championship. Non-district games are great for seeing how a team can play away from a district setting. Belton took on Stony Point in Round Rock on Saturday, two weeks after the original game in Belton was postponed due to district baseball obligations for both schools.
The venue for the game was shifted to Tiger Diamond on the campus of Stony Point High School. Jacob Alexander’s sacrifice fly in the second inning and Nathan Vail’s RBI single in third inning gave Dustin Tish, Cameron Whitman and Ethan Williams all the run support they needed, as the red-and-white Tigers a 2-0 win over the blue-and-grey Tigers. The win extended Belton’s winning streak to 16 games going into this weekend’s bi-district playoff series against Tyler Robert E. Lee starting on Friday night.
Following a 1-2-3 start to the ballgame, Tish allowed a double to Ivan Vera with two outs in the first inning. Hobey Hiland made an athletic play at third base, fielding a slow-roller and fired a seed into Chase Sortor’s glove at first to end the threat. Hiland then grabbed a bat and singled off Stony Point starter Jesus Caldera. He advanced on two bases on a wild pitch and scored on an opposite-field fly ball by Alexander to put Belton up 1-0.
Tish encountered trouble in the second inning with two outs, as Xavier DeLeon walked and Rafael Renteria singled, to put the pair at second and third. Tish fanned Josh Thompson to get out of the inning. Coby Potvin walked to start the third inning and advanced to second when Tommy McRoberts misplayed a Caldera pickoff attempt. Vail promptly singled the speedy Potvin home and the insurance run gave Belton a 2-0 lead.
Tish allowed two more runners over the next two innings, but neither runner got past second base. He left the game at the end of the fourth, after striking out five hitters and walking two. Whitman came on in relief for two innings, surrendering one hit and striking out three. Ethan Williams picked up the save, retiring the Stony Point side in the seventh inning.
“I was happy with the defense and our pitching today,” Belton head coach Eddie Cornblum said. “Offensively, we missed some signals that we are going to work on. We are in great shape going into the playoffs.
Inside the numbers
After starting 2-7, the Belton Tigers Baseball team has won 16 games in a row and is currently 18-7. A 16-game winning streak on any level is great and the team has done wonderful over the past two-plus months.
Belton wasn’t the only team to be perfect record-wise in district play in 2015 in Class 6A. According to txhighschoolbaseball.com, there were 10 teams in Class 6A that were undefeated in district play during 2015 season. Those teams were (with district record and the district they reside in):
Keller (14-0, 5-6A), Flower Mound (16-0, 6-6A), Dallas Jesuit (14-0, 9-6A), Belton (12-0, 12-6A), Round Rock (14-0, 13-6A), Oak Ridge (12-0, 16-6A), Houston Memorial (12-0, 18-6A), Deer Park (12-0, 21-6A), San Antonio O’Connor (18-0, 27-6A) and Laredo Alexander (15-0, 29-6A).
With regards to a 16-game winning streak, it may be close to a “school” record, it is not the longest in the state currently. The current top five winning streaks in the state in Class 6A are:
1) San Antonio O’Connor-19, 2) Dallas Jesuit-17, 3) Three-way tie: Belton, Keller and Round Rock-16
The Tigers play Tyler Lee in the Bi-District round of the inaugural Texas Class 6A playoffs, with game one on Friday night at 6pm at Tiger Field. Game two will be in Tyler at Lee HS at 4pm Saturday and game three, if needed, will start 30 minutes following.
The radio broadcast of the series will pick up with game one at Tiger Field, starting at 5:45 p.m. for the pregame on KTEM-AM 1400 in Temple, Belton and Killeen, on the internet at KTEMNews.com and on the radioPup application on Android and iPhone platforms. Game two will be broadcast from Tyler’s Mike Carter Field (1900 W. Houston Ave, Tyler), starting at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday. If a game three is needed, it will start 30 minutes following the conclusion of game two.