HARKER HEIGHTS — On a night when Harker Heights ace pitcher Kyle Randall wasn’t throwing his best stuff, it was a good thing Tyler Torres was on.
One inning after Temple’s nine-run third inning, Torres gave up a single hit and struck out seven in the final three innings to give the Knights a tense, and much-needed 13-10 win over the Wildcats on Tuesday.
“For the first couple of innings, I was just thinking about trying to shut them down, get one out at a time,” Torres said. “That one inning was big for them. We had to stop their momentum, had to get outs here and there, I just came in and tried to get one out at a time, take it one batter at a time.”
The Knights (12-12, 6-6 8-5A) scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning to break a 10-10 tie. Torres was dominant on the mound after that, allowing just four Temple players to reach base the final four innings and struck out four of the final five batters he faced to keep the Knights in fourth-place in District 8-5A, one game ahead of Ellison, which beat Copperas Cove 12-2.
“Torres did a great job shutting it out the last three or four innings,” Harker Heights coach Glenn Cunningham said. “It took a team effort tonight. I thought everybody contributed from 1 through 14, we had everybody contribute and we needed that. ... It gave us another day to live and we get to go out and battle one more time.”
With the bases loaded and no outs, Ricky Ortiz hit a two-run single and Chris Guillen followed with a three-run home run as the Wildcats (8-18, 3-9) rallied from a 10-1 deficit to tie the game at
10-10 going into the bottom of the third inning. Temple left the bases loaded in the third and then committed a pair of errors in the bottom of the inning that led to two of the Knights’ three go-ahead runs.
“I’m proud of our fight,” Temple coach Craig Martin said. “It was a game we needed to win in order to stay alive (in the playoff race). It would’ve been real easy to hang their heads and see the season slip away from them right there, and they didn’t. ... The story of the game there for us is kind the story of the season, too many mistakes.”
The Wildcats committed five errors in the loss, but the Knights committed four, including two in the third inning that allowed Temple to rally back.
“We came out, got some opportunities, did some things well, early,” Cunningham said. “We put the ball in play and got some big hits. What we didn’t do was go ahead and put the nail in the coffin. ... But, our kids battled tonight. Nothing’s been easy for us all year.”
After the Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Guillen’s RBI single, the Knights scored two runs on three hits and an error in the bottom to take a 2-1 lead. Cody Plagens scored on Robby Sluss’ RBI sacrifice fly and Tyler Keller scored on a single by Torres.
Then, the Knights scored eight runs on seven hits and two errors in second inning to take their 10-1 lead. Sluss had a two-run triple and Caleb Dean and Jomar Velez-Peirera each had RBI singles in the inning.
After Temple tied the game in the top of the third on six hits and two errors, Miles Munro and Plagens each scored on Temple errors and Michael Zapata’s single plated Sluss.
“We came back, after that (bad) inning, scored more runs,” Torres said. “Everybody picked each other up, tonight. It worked like a machine.”