By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
There was plenty for the Belton Tigers to be pleased with in Friday night’s game against the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs.
The biggest thing was their early patience in the first inning. Withstanding the cold front that blew in just before game time and increased winds in excess of 25 miles-per-hour certainly played into their hands as well.
The Tigers worked Cove pitching for six runs on only one hit, drawing five walks and having two hit batsmen. The wild first inning, plus a solid complete game from Trent Stafford, helped the Tigers to a 6-3 in Copperas Cove.
Belton improved their record to 10-8 overall and 2-0 in District 12-6A play. Cove dropped to 11-4 overall and 1-1 in the district race.
Breck Potvin started the game with a walk. Following a strikeout, Hobey Hiland was hit by a pitch and Collin Mask walked. Potvin and Hiland scored on wild pitches to get Belton on the board. A balk by Cove starting pitcher Cameron Johnson moved runners up and scored Mask. Johnson hit Nathan Vail with a pitch and Cove head coach Dusty Brittain had seen enough, going to his reliever Josh Carbajal with the bases loaded. Carbajal walked Reese Hohhertz and Brandon Rudy, forcing in courtesy runners Eric Hoffman and Trey Bell to make the score 5-0. Potvin singled in courtesy runner Andrew Kendall to increase the score to 6-0.
Cove scored their first run on a fielder’s choice by Carbajal, scoring Tim Bechtold in the first inning. They plated two in the second inning, as Tyler Ingram and Neeko Kirk singled and Johnson walked to load the bases. Ingram scored on a wild pitch and Kirk scored on a double play to make the score 6-3 at the end of two innings.
Stafford was locked in after the double play, retiring nine straight batters before a walk in the fifth inning. He got plenty of good defense from the infield, a diving catch from Xavier Haines to end the sixth inning and a game-ending diving catch from Tyler Kastner in centerfield.
Carbajal was effective, holding the Tigers scoreless in the game’s final six innings and pitched his way out of one jam after another. He forced Belton to strand nine runners for the game.
Stafford picked up the complete game victory. He went seven innings, gave up three runs on five hits, walked three and struck out eight Bulldawg hitters.
Johnson took the loss, surrendering five runs on no hits, hit two batters, walked three and struck out one in one-thirds of an inning. Carbajal was solid in relief, dealing six-and-two-thirds, allowing one run on one hit, struck out nine and walked seven.
Belton shuts out Killeen on Senior Night 10-0
Senior night. One of the most emotional nights of the year for parents, coaches, players and friends to celebrate the accomplishments of many years of baseball.
Tuesday was that night for the Belton Tigers Baseball team.
Tanner Frick celebrated his senior night with his first starting role on the mound of 2016 and did it with a four-inning outing, as the Tigers posted a six-pack of runs in the first inning and shutout the Killeen Kangaroos 10-0 in four-and-a-half innings.
The Tigers improved their record to 11-7 overall and 3-0 in District 12-6A play, tied for first place with Harker Heights. Belton will play against next Tuesday at Killeen Ellison and will face Midway a week from this Friday.
Belton started their first inning rally with a single from Tyler Kastner, an RBI single from Collin Mask and a wind-blown hit from Aaron Krueger, plating two more runs. Brandon Rudy drew a bases-loaded walk and Trey Bell’s two-run single gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead, providing Frick with plenty of breathing room.
“In any game, getting that many runs helps,” Belton head coach Eddie Cornblum said. “Six runs allow you to go out there and relax even more and have some fun.”
The oxygen was nice, especially with the fire that Frick provided on the hill. He dominated Killeen with his mixture of his fastball, change up and his sweeping curve ball, that kept the Roos guessing wrong throughout. The Roos reached base on a walk and an error.
The Tigers’ offense continued to chip away at Killeen starter Stephen Zarate in the third inning, as Bell reached on an outfield error, Kastner singled and Hiland doubled the pair in to make the score 8-0.
Belton pushed the game into run-rule territory in the fourth, as Trent Stafford cranked a double to left field and Aaron Krueger knocked Stafford in with a single. Kreuger scored a short time later to make the score 10-0. Shane Mejia closed out the game for the Tigers.
The Tigers collected nine hits in four innings, two apiece from Kastner, Hiland and Mask.
Belton celebrated the careers of Eric Hoffman, Miguel Quinones, Trent Stafford, Andrew Kendall, Nathan Vail, Reese Hohhertz, Tyler Rhea, Xavier Haines, Mark Reynolds, Cameron Whitman, Tanner Frick, Brandon Rudy, Collin Mask and Hobey Hiland before the ball game