AUSTIN — The Killeen Kangaroos entered 2014 with pitching as a question mark.
The Roos (3-8-2) hope the question was answered at the Austin Baseball Tournament over the weekend with good performances from Chris Barber, despite winning only one of three games.
“Pitching’s going to be our key,” Killeen head coach Donald Trcka said. “If we can throw strikes and keep the ball out of play, we’re going to be successful.”
Barber was one of the highlights of Friday’s 14-0 blowout win over Austin Travis at Hyde Park Baptist High School.
Barber allowed one hit in the four-inning win while striking out eight batters and retiring the final nine Rebels that came to the plate.
“It just felt good,” Barber said after the Travis game. “Everything felt good. All of the pitches were working. It was just real good.”
Travis mustered a total of only three baserunners in the game.
Barber threw 40 pitches against Travis and pitched the nightcap against Austin Lanier. In that game, he pitched five innings and allowed just one unearned run.
“He’s where he needs to be to get us through this final push,” Trcka said.
Doug Bell is likely to be the Roos’ other starting pitcher in District 8-5A play, but did not pitch during the Austin Tournament in order to give his arm a rest.
Killeen’s lineup has been giving the pitchers some good run support of late. The Roos have scored at least three runs in six of their last eight games, including 14 against Travis and six against Austin Crockett.
The Roos have four players in the lineup hitting over .400 and three other players in the lineup that hit more than .300.
For Trcka, the Austin Tournament gave the players one more chance to play together with their regular lineup.
“This week was good because it kind of fine-tuned everything,” Trcka said. “The kids know where they stand. They know who’s going to play, who’s going to have a role and stuff like that.”
Killeen had key offensive contributions from infielders Marquis Winston and Garrett Gaskamp, hitting leadoff and cleanup.
Winston went 2 for 3 in the tournament opener against Crockett, walked and stole three bases in the third inning against Travis and went 2 for 3 again in the tournament finale against Lanier.
Gaskamp was 1 for 2 with a double and two RBIs against Crockett and 1 for 2 with an RBI and two runs against Travis.
Killeen opens district play on Tuesday against Copperas Cove.