In the middle of the first inning, Donald Trcka challenged his team.
They responded in a big way.
After allowing Copperas Cove to score six runs on four hits to the start the game, Killeen held the Bulldawgs to three hits for the remainder of the contest, while rallying for a 13-10 victory.
“I told them to go out and win every inning from here on out,” Trcka said of his early conversation with the Kangaroos. “You’ve got to win innings when you are down like that, so we came back, won some innings, and I think that is the most runs we’ve scored all year.”
Killeen finished with 11 hits, including four in the fourth inning, claiming its first lead of the game when Blake Yonker was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, sending Daniel Vega across home plate.
In addition to completing the Kangaroos’ rally, Vega was responsible for starting it after hitting a three-run home run over the right field fence in the bottom of the first inning.
“He’s been struggling a little bit at times, but he came through tonight,” Trcka said.
Defensively, Doug Bell came into the game in the third inning, replacing starting pitcher Marcos Hinojos, and delivered four shutout innings before the Bulldawgs posted a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning to produce the final score.
“I felt really well,” Bell said. “I’ve been kind of slumping, but tonight was breath of fresh air. I think I did really well.”
Bell allowed three hits in five innings and struck out seven batters, including a stretch of five strike outs in nine at bats across the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
After the game, Trcka admitted he did not intend to use Bell against Copperas Cove, but there was simply too much on the line as Killeen (4-15, 3-5 8-5A) is fighting to remain in postseason contention.
“I was actually saving Doug for tomorrow (at Harker Heights),” he said, “but this is a game we had to have. I’m going to do anything I can to make sure we are in position to win a game.
“Doug pitched a great game, and he kept us in it. He is my guy. He is the guy I go to when I need a big game.”
In addition to earning the victory on the mound, Bell was 2 for 3 with a RBI and scored a run. Vega went 2 for 2 with three RBI, and John Rechtorovic was 2 for 2 and scored three runs with a RBI.
Copperas Cove jumped out to an early lead as six consecutive batters scored for the Bulldawgs. Tim Bechtold recorded the opening run as Julian Doubelday hit a RBI double before Riley Childers, who followed in the lineup, hit an RBI single to send Brandon Smith home from third.
Kyle Winstead then added a two-RBI triple, and Joel Hogan hit a sacrifice fly to score Christian Thomas to complete the outburst.
The Bulldawgs (5-17, 2-6) extended their lead to 8-3 in the top of the second inning, when Doubleday scored on an error following a dropped third strike by Killeen catcher Darien Cox, who then made an errant throw over the first baseman’s head.
But the Bulldawgs would not score again until the seventh inning, when Smith hit a two-RBI single.
“I thought our guys played really well,” Copperas Cove head coach C.J. Wilk said. “We battled. Killeen battled. Two grown men (the umpires) decided that ballgame.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org