LORENA — Harker Heights couldn’t stop the bleeding.
With one out and a man on first, the Knights got a double play ball that could have ended the third inning. But Cody Plagens misplayed the hard shot and the floodgates opened.
The Mansfield Tigers scored five runs after the third-inning error and defeated Harker Heights 11-4 Friday.
“Those guys are known for — from all the scouting — that if you make a big mistake, they make you pay,” Harker Heights coach Glenn Cunningham said. “Last night they didn’t. Today we had a man on first, had a ground ball to the shortstop and we kick it and then they go and score five behind that.”
The two teams play a rubber match in the Region I-5A bi-district playoff series today at Waco ISD’s Veterans’ Field No. 2 at noon.
Harker Heights is expected to pitch freshman Tyler Torres in Game 3.
“We will put the freshman on the hill and see what he can do,” Cunningham said. “He will get a taste of it.”
After the error by Plagens, Ryan Brooks walked, Connor Hall and Reed Petty singled and the Knights made two more errors as Mansfield took a 5-2 lead.
“We wanted to just see after we got down 2-0 how the kids were going to react,” Mansfield baseball coach Gary Vaughn said. “They started getting on top of the baseball and started hitting to the opposite sides of the field and were patient at the plate.
“I am proud of them. They showed what we are capable of doing at times.”
After getting rattled in the third as his team committed three errors behind him, Caleb Dean lost his control an inning later. The senior walked three batters in a row in the fourth inning and then gave up a two-run double to Hall, who was 2 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs, which put the Tigers up 7-4.
“Caleb did not have the command he usually has,” Cunningham said. “I thought he threw the ball well early, but he ran into control problems.”
Heights (16-14) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning off a two-run double by Tyler Keller. After Mansfield (18-13) scored five runs in the third, Heights rallied for two runs and cut the Tigers’ lead to 5-4.
Torres and Dean opened the third with back-to-back singles and scored on an RBI groundout by Michael Rae Zapata.
But the Tigers kept coming.
Josh Timms tripled and scored off an RBI single by Hunter Hargrove in the fifth, and in the seventh, after Clint Harris and Hall walked, Lane Meyer smacked an RBI single.
“With good teams in the playoffs you just can’t give them opportunities and we have to eliminate that (today),” Cunningham said.
Contact Nick Talbot at email@example.com or (254) 501-7569