By Tony Adams, Belton Journal Belton versus A&M Consolidated: Just the pairing of the two schools made high school sports fans in Central Texas salivate with anticipation of hard-fought, gritty athletics between two proud schools that each have the Tigers mascot. Now, after battling both in and out of district play for years, the pair encounters each other again, and this time, the Class 5A bi-district championship is on the line. Details Friday night’s Game 1 will take place at Tidwell Field at 7 p.m. Game 2 shifts to A&M Consolidated for a 2 p.m. start Saturday with a deciding Game 3 following, if necessary. Comparisons Belton and A&M Consolidated each played Lake Belton. Belton was 0-2 against the Broncos (5-0, 2-1 in 10 innings) and A&M lost a 2-1 contest to Lake at the Bryan-College Station Tournament. Belton went 12-2 in District 22-5A action, having outscored the district 148-24 and included seven run-rule wins. Belton averaged 10.6 runs per district contest and yielded 1.7. Consolidated’s trip through District 21-5A was loaded with a bevy of closer games. They started with the district lead with a 7-0 start before series splits with Magnolia and Lake Creek led to sweep by Magnolia West. A&M swept rival College Station to round out 21-5A action with a third-place finish and a 10-4 record. They outscored their opponents 72-36, an average score of 5.1-2.6. The respective district champions swept both teams. Defense Belton’s starting pitchers are Caleb Kennedy, Easton Drake and left-hander Jacob Quigley. Right-handed Reese Rumfield has pitched several times in relief. While the corner infielders and outfielders shift constantly, centerfielder Rumfield, shortstop Mason Ramm, second baseman Gage Flores and catcher Jayden Hernandez have been constants at their respective positions. Over the years, A&M Consolidated has boasted lots of great pitching. Sam Nitzke was a second-team All-District in 2022. Freshman Owen Horrell is one of their rising stars, having pitched 6 1/3 innings against College Station last week, having allowed just one run. Stryker Blevins is one of Consolidated’s arms from the bullpen arsenal. Offense While Kennedy, Drake, and Gage Rinehart have been constant contributors this season, Rumfield has hit the ball well of late. Ramm is a threat at the top of the lineup. A&M has plenty of offensive talent with Nathan Hodge, Trace Meadows, Cannon Kieschnick, Cole Bentz, Bradley Boedeker and Clayton Ely. Consolidated has scored 139 runs in 26 games, an average of just over five runs per contest. Next The winner will face either Austin Navarro or Georgetown in next week’s area round.