It was a blast to watch Harker Heights play baseball.
As I’ve mentioned before, I would much rather watch or cover a good, old-fashioned pitching duel between two teams, and the Knights provided plenty of opportunities to do so.
Starting with District 8-6A play and including four playoff games, Harker Heights won three contests by two runs and five by one run.
One reason they enjoyed so many victories in close fashion was they did whatever they could to scratch out runs. If it took small ball, they did it. If they needed to use a bit of slugging, they did that, too.
There were also multiple occasions head coach Randy Culp called for a bunt with one out and a runner on first or second, which might seem unconventional. But Tre Martin was really good at finding a hole in the infield or looping a single into the outfield to bring the runner home with two outs.
The most important reason for Harker Heights’ success, however, was its pitching.
Daniel Cole didn’t make his first appearance on the hill until the beginning of league play, but he was the true definition of an ace. He went 6-2 overall with a 1.42 ERA in 49 1/3 innings. He struck out 78 and allowed just 36 hits, and he dazzled in Game 2 last Friday in a must-win game against Allen in the playoffs.
But he wasn’t the only hurler who shined.
If you’ve been reading this space previously, you know I’ve been a fan of Jacob Mitchell. He was 5-5 on the year with an ERA of 3.44 in 61 innings while striking out 67.
The big right-hander had the team in position to win Game 3 on Saturday, but the Knights just weren’t able to get the timely hits they needed to extend their season.
But Justin Gordon also deserves credit, and not just for his six-inning performance Thursday and Friday.
The senior did not get much action in district play because Harker Heights had Cole and Mitchell to pitch every other game, so it would’ve been understandable if Gordon was a little rusty in Game 1.
He wasn’t, though, and he — like Cole and Mitchell — gave the team a chance.
The pitching staff of the Knights certainly was fun to watch. In each game, you knew all they needed was a couple runs offensively to win.