By Alex Byington
Harker Heights Herald
KILLEEN - For the first 10 pitches Friday, the Belton offense looked lost.
But with a patient approach at the plate, it didn't take long for the Tigers to find their way, jumping ahead with four runs in the top of the first en route to a dominant 13-4 victory over the host Ellison Eagles.
It was the third straight double-digit scoring effort from a renewed Belton following a rare District 12-5A loss to Harker Heights last Thursday.
"I think in a way, that was good to put us under the bus and get us going," said Belton starter Blayton Magana, who limited Ellison to two hits through the first six innings before allowing two runs on four hits in the bottom of the seventh in a complete-game effort.
"I think that motivated us to be better."
Following two quick outs by Ellison starter Taylor Wright, Belton (15-7, 4-1) found its groove by running the count full with the next three batters before senior Brooks Mraz struck first with a two-out, two RBI double past diving Eagle left fielder Felix Marbury.
"Everybody that faced him came into the dugout telling what he had, and we just had the approach to stay back, pick out your pitch, find it and drive it," Mraz said.
Drive it he did, scoring Max Hogan and Austin Bishoff on the hit, who were on with a single over second and walk, respectively.
Mraz wasn't left hanging for long as slugger Ryan King knocked him in on a single four pitches later and Shane Ward rocked a seeing-eye screamer over a leaping K.J. Stark at second base to score King and chase Wright after just two-thirds of an inning.
The early lead allowed Magana (2-2) to control things from the mound, facing just four over the minimum and allowing two unearned runs through the first six innings, with only Marbury making any real contact.
"He really controlled at bats with the way he threw," Belton coach Eddie Cornblum said of Magana.
Belton 17, Bryan 13 - At Belton, the Tigers hit five home runs - including a pair of grand slams by Max Hogan and Reyes Jimenez - to put Belton in the driver's seat for second place in District 12-5A on Tuesday.
The win set up an opportunity for the Tigers (16-7, 5-1) to pull into a tie for first place with a victory over No. 4-ranked A&M Consolidated in their 7 p.m. game today in College Station.
Hogan's grand slam gave Belton a 7-3 lead after a five-run second inning, after which the Tigers never trailed.
A&M Consolidated 5, Harker Heights 4 - At Harker Heights, the Knights lost their fourth straight in District 12-5A play when a four-run fifth inning by A&M Consolidated erased an early Heights advantage Tuesday.
The Knights (14-7, 2-4), who led 3-1 after the first on an RBI double by junior Emery Atkisson and a two-RBI double by senior Rodney Leasch, nearly rallied with two runners on in the bottom of the seventh.
But a line drive by Irvin Santamaria fell harmlessly into the glove of the Tigers center fielder to strand Heights runners on third and first.
Bryan 4, Harker Heights 3 - At Bryan, the Knights dropped their third straight, falling in the bottom of the seventh despite a late rally attempt.
After the Vikings struck Heights ace Irvin Santamaria for three runs in the first inning, the Knights senior settled down enough for the offense to rally to tie it at 3-3 with two runs in the top of the sixth before Bryan added the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Salado 12, Lampasas 4 - At Lampasas, the Eagles had seven hits in a nine-run second inning, including RBI hits by Paul Warren, Taylor Rudduck, Braxton Tucker and Clint Scarborough for their first District 25-3A win of the season. Warren finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while fellow senior Cole Calder was 2-for-2 with an RBI triple and RBI infield single for Salado (13-7, 1-1). Scarborough (5-1) also came through on the mound, working himself out of trouble through six innings of four-hit ball with four strikeouts.
Burnet 5, Salado 4, 9 inn. - At Salado, the host Eagles nearly rallied after giving up five Burnet runs in the top of the ninth inning, starting the bottom half with three hits. They came up short however, falling in their District 25-3A opener.
Bubba Luna struck out 10 in eight innings for Salado (12-7, 0-1), giving up just a bunt single in the eighth. Luna also went 3-for-3, while Colby Schiller went doubled and drove in two runs.
Belton 10, Ellison 0, 5 inn.- At Belton, Allison Boston tossed a two-hit shutout and the Lady Tigers scored eight runs in the bottom of the fifth to invoke the 10-run mercy rule Tuesday.
A double by Alyssa Castro and a single by Jelena Tunstill were the only Ellison hits allowed by Boston, who struck out 12 and walked none. Only 12 of her 65 pitches were balls.
Kirsten Whiteside was 3-for-4 and scored twice for Belton (18-6, 6-1 12-5A). Alex Wilson doubled and drove in three runs, and Lauren Ramsey was 2-for-3.
Belton 13, Copperas Cove 0, 5 inn. - At Copperas Cove, the visiting Tigers scored eight runs in the first inning and hit four home runs to knock off the Lady Bulldawgs in a run-rule victory March 25. Alyson Bishoff went 3-for-3 with two homers and three RBIs, while Ashley Bucher and Amber Peters each homered as well.
Copperas Cove 6, Harker Heights 3, 10 inn. - At Harker Heights, Destiny Henderson and Megan Martel both had run-scoring singles in the 10th inning, as Copperas Cove broke a tie and held on to win on the road.
Heights (7-16, 1-6) had a chance to win in the ninth, loading the bases with no outs, but couldn't push a run across. Ashlyn Osborne led the Lady Knights, going 3-for-5 and scoring twice.
Temple 11, Harker Heights 1, 5 inn. - At Temple, the Tem-Cats scored in every inning, including three runs in both the second and fifth innings to finish off the run-rule win stay unbeaten in District 12-5A at 6-0 March 25. Heights (7-15, 1-5) scored its lone hit and only run in the fifth inning, as Katelyn Brockman tripled and scored.