Killeen baseball coach Donald Trcka sent four guys looking for it. But the elusive strike zone evaded all four pitchers.
Killeen pitchers combined for 14 walks and two hit batters and the Belton Tigers remained patient at the plate and beat the Roos 21-2 in five innings Friday at Killeen.
“We knew coming in that we’d have to pitch well and throw strikes. We just struggled on the mound tonight. Struggled a lot on the mound tonight,” Trcka said. “That’s something we’ll have to go back and fix.”
Belton (11-9-1, 5-0 8-5A) scored seven runs in the first inning and nine in the second and had just 10 hits while building 16-1 lead. The Tigers finished with 15 hits.
“I think the biggest thing was we combined a couple things on offense. We were patient at the plate and I thought we swung the bat well,” Belton coach Eddie Cornblum said. “You combine those two things, you get guys on base and you have a chance to score some runs.”
The Tigers batted around in the first, second and fourth innings and by the fifth inning, all but two Belton starters had been replaced.
Killeen starting pitcher Doug Bell gave up six runs on four hits and walked two on just 25 pitches without getting a single out. He was replaced by John Rechtorovic, who pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed nine runs, four earned, on five hits and three walks. Marcos Hinojos relieved Rechtorovic with one out in the second inningand gave up six runs on four hits and seven walks in 1 2/3 innings. Chris Barber pitched the final two innings and gave up one run and two hits. He walked two and hit two.
“I just think we had an off-night at the plate. It didn’t matter who I put up there,” Trcka said. “We didn’t throw many strikes. I threw four different guys and we just couldn’t find the zone.”
After Belton’s seven-run first inning, Killeen’s Rene Ramirez and Dominique Cowie led-off of the bottom of the inning with back-to-back doubles for the Roos’ first run. But the Tigers got out of the inning when Daniel Vega hit a one-out infield pop-up on a 3-0 pitch that led to a force out at third base and Belton centerfielder Jared Janczak snagged Jacob Hinojos’ bases-loaded fly ball at the fence.
“It could’ve been a 7-6 ballgame real quick, that was a big play,” Cornblum said of Janczak’s catch. “A kid hitting a 3-0 pop-up that was huge. So, that out and that play in center field was big in the first inning. And coming out of that first inning 7-1 was a blessing. And we were able to capitalize.”
Rectorovic and Marcus Hinojos combined to walk six batters in the second inning, including two for RBIs, in the Tigers’ 9-run second inning.
Vega hit a lead-off home run for Killeen in the third inning, but the Tigers answered with five in the fifth.
Belton pitcher Shane Stafford pitched three innings and allowed two runs on six hits for the win. He struck out five and walked one.