“Axel,” replied the Professor with perfect coolness, “our situation is almost desperate; but there are some chances of deliverance, and it is these that I am considering. If at every instant we may perish, so at every instant we may be saved.” — Jules Verne, “Journey to the Center of the Earth”

Backed into a corner, the Harker Heights baseball team showed up. With a go-big or go-home attitude, the Knights’ bats exploded for a combined 31 runs during a three-game win streak last Friday and Saturday, including sweeping both games of the District 8-5A play-in tripleheader during an eight-hour marathon of baseball against Ellison and Shoemaker to secure the district’s No. 3 seed.

But biggest of all, Harker Heights is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

All it took was being forced to fight back from the brink of elimination. Of course, sometimes it takes desperation to bring out the best in some people.

“There was so much at stake, (but) I think we love that pressure on us — we want to come out and prove people wrong,” said Knights junior Caleb Dean, who was 4 for 5 with three doubles and three RBIs, all coming in the nine-run fifth against Shoemaker. “We just had to win ball games and that’s what we pretty much did.”

Not pretty much, the Knights did win, and win convincingly.

Powered by several big innings, including batting around in a nine-run turnstile fifth-inning against Shoemaker, Harker Heights proved what it was capable of doing. Playing .500 baseball throughout much of the 8-5A slate, the Knights’ bats rolled out a seven-run second inning to issue a 9-2 knockout blow to Copperas Cove — the very same Bulldawgs that started Heights on its district roller coaster.

The very next day, Heights was back at it, eliminating Ellison with a three-run first inning sparked by a rocket leadoff home run from senior Robby Sluss that cleared the Killeen High scoreboard in right-center field.

Even a slow start against Shoemaker, falling down 5-1 after giving up a three-run fourth inning, the Knights responded. Heights’ first eight batters of the top of the fifth inning reached base, including the first five on hits before a pair of Grey Wolves errors allowed three runs to cross the plate.

It was only in their time of desperation that the Knights showed their true colors.

The Knights (15-13, 7-7

8-5A), which opened a three-game bi-district series against Mansfield (13-10,

11-3) yesterday, look to either close out a sweep or once against be fighting for their playoff lives tonight at 7 at Lorena High School. If necessary, a third game is slated for noon Saturday at Waco ISD’s Veterans Field No. 2. Of course, given the way Harker Heights has played when it’s backed into a corner, a loss Thursday might not be the worst thing in the world.

Contact Alex Byington at alexb@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7566

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