BELTON — The Belton Tigers live to fight another day, and they can thank Chase Sortor and Justin Golden for extending their season for at least 24 hours.
Sortor drove in every Belton run, and Golden limited South Grand Prairie’s chances with pinpoint control as the Tigers bounced back for a 3-1 win Friday night to even their Class 5A bi-district baseball series against the Warriors.
By rebounding from Thursday’s 8-7, eight-inning road loss in the opener, Belton (21-11-1) forced a decisive Game 3 at 6:30 p.m. today at Fort Worth’s LaGrave Field.
“It’s been like that all year for us. We don’t quit,” Tigers coach Eddie Cornblum said. “We’ll enjoy this for about an hour, and then we’ll get ready for tomorrow.”
Unlike Game 1 at SGP’s home field — where offense came in bunches — runs and scoring chances were precious at Tiger Field.
Simon Sedillo (5-4) limited the Tigers to only three hits and the Warriors (17-17) played error-free defense. Sedillo’s downfall was his control, which betrayed him for five walks, and twice Sortor made him pay.
With two outs in the fourth following a leadoff walk by Joey Hogan, Sedillo’s 0-2 pitch caught way too much of the plate and Sortor sent it soaring over the right-field fence for a 2-1 Belton lead.
“I was kind of surprised he left one hanging,” said Sortor, a sophomore who pushed his home run total to three. “I just sat on it and drove it the other way.”
The Tigers added an insurance run in the sixth, when two walks preceded Sortor’s at-bat. This time he banged a 1-2 pitch off the wall in right for an RBI double.
“We came in with our backs against the wall,” Sortor said, “so I tried to do the best I can to get my team the win.”
Added Cornblum: “(Sortor) has a great two-strike approach. He doesn’t get rattled. And we’ve preached patience all year. If you don’t get your pitch, then get on base another way. It’s worked for us all year, and I don’t think that’s going to change.”
Belton’s only other hit was a harmless one-out single by Mark Herrington in the third.
“Our guy made two bad pitches,” SGP coach Dennis Pelfrey said. “There was a hanging changeup that a guy hit out to right, and then another hanging changeup that the same guy hit for a double.”
The number of bad pitches for Golden (7-2) was small in number, as well. The right-hander gave up five hits, struck out five and — more important — walked only one.
“I felt great out there, and I feel like I could still throw another inning,” he said. “I just went out there and threw strikes.”
The Warriors’ only run came in the second, when Dakota Liles’ leadoff single was followed by back-to-back errors by shortstop Walker Winders and second baseman Chase Cryer, and a bloop single from Kade Chapa.
“Golden pitched very well for them,” Pelfrey said. “We wanted to grind out some at-bats and drive his pitch count up, and we couldn’t do that.”