CORSICANA — Harker Heights took on Allen in the area round of the Class 6A baseball playoffs last week and, to no surprise, the series went all three games.
Strong pitching and defense was needed by both teams in all three contests, and the two teams received both. In the end, however, the Eagles edged the Knights 2-1 in Game 3 to move on to the Region I-6A quarterfinals against Southlake Carroll with a 2-1 series victory.
In the rubber match Saturday, the two teams combined for just eight total hits — five by Allen and three by Harker Heights — as Jacob Mitchell and Jared Fowler dazzled on the mound.
Mitchell threw 7 1/3 innings for the Knights (15-15-1) while allowing two runs on five hits and eight walks with one strikeout.
Fowler tossed seven frames for the Eagles (24-11) and limited Harker Heights to just one run on three hits and three walks with eight strikeouts.
Allen won the game in the bottom of the eighth in walk-off fashion.
Dylan Ditzenberger drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Cole Maxwell drew another walk, and both runners advanced 90 feet thanks to a sacrifice bunt by Joey Crisci.
Cole Latos was intentionally walked to load the bases for a possible force out at home or a double play, but Troy Bauer perfectly placed a bunt between first and second to score the winning run.
The Eagles scored first in the bottom of the opening frame on an RBI single to left field by Maxwell.
In the top of the fourth, Mitchell drew a one-out walk for the Knights and was lifted for courtesy runner Kainoa Rillera. Two batters later, Spencer Young singled to left, and Rillera ended up scoring on consecutive wild pitches to tie the game at 1-1.
In Game 2 on Friday, Daniel Cole got the start on the mound for Harker Heights and delivered an ace performance. The senior threw a complete-game shutout while surrendering five hits and walking one and striking out five in a 1-0 triumph.
The lone run scored in the game occurred on a hard-hit ground ball to third by Mitchell that was mishandled for an error in the bottom of the fourth, allowing Cole to score from third. Cole led off the frame with a double to left and was moved to third on a sac bunt by Jackson Rinehart.
In Game 1 on Thursday, Allen had a 2-0 lead with two outs in the bottom of the fourth when the tilt was suspended due to inclement weather and resumed Friday just prior to Game 2.
The Eagles scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly out to center by Maxwell, and they extended the lead to 2-0 in the third thanks to a line-drive single to left by Crisci.
When play resumed Friday, Crisci pushed Allen’s lead out to 4-0 with a two-run home run to left in the sixth.
Justin Gordon pitched admirably for the Knights in Game 1. He allowed four runs on three hits and three walks while striking out four for a six-inning complete game.
Harker Heights mustered just nine total hits offensively in the three-game series.