In a pitching duel at home Tuesday night in its District 8-6A opener, the Harker Heights baseball team was locked in a tight battle with Belton that would be decided by just the slightest mistake.
The Tigers made two of them.
With the game knotted at 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Belton starting pitcher Shane Mejia uncorked a wild pitched that allowed Kainoa Rillera to score from third base for a 2-1 Knights lead.
The Tigers then brought in relief pitcher Dylan Bloomquist, who proceeded to unleash another wild pitch to allow Justin Gordon to score from third.
Harker Heights sophomore Jackson Rinehart came through with a clutch at-bat in their two-run sixth. Rinehart attempted a one-out sacrifice bunt and laid it down perfectly between the pitcher’s mound and first, allowing him to reach safely for a single while putting the go-ahead run in scoring position.
Knights starting pitcher Jacob Mitchell recorded two of the three outs in the top of the seventh via a strikeout to ensure a 3-1 triumph for Harker Heights.
Mejia received the losing decision for Belton despite tossing 5 2/3 innings and allowing three runs on four hits and four walks while striking out 15.
But Mitchell was just as spectacular for the Knights (4-8-1, 1-0 8-6A). The senior threw a complete game and surrendered one run on five hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts to earn the win.
Mitchell also tallied the only RBI for Harker Heights, as he grounded a single up the middle to score fellow senior Daniel Cole from second in the bottom of the first to tie the contest at 1-1. Mitchell was 1 for 2 overall with a walk.
Belton (5-9, 0-1) put the first notch on the scoreboard in the top of the first, as Breck Potvin led the game off with a double and eventually scored on an infield single by Trey Bell.
The ending to its league opener was a bit unconventional, but Harker Heights head coach Randy Culp said the team will take it.
“Here’s the thing we talk about all the time: Against a team’s No. 1 pitcher, you’re not going to be able hit those guys all the time,” Culp said. “You’re going to have to steal it somehow, some way. Tonight, as hot as Shane was, anything we could get was a good thing.
“It was a good W. We’ll take it, for sure, any way we can get it.”
The two teams will face one another again tonight in Belton at 7 p.m.