GRAND PRAIRIE — One big inning of hitting was not enough for the Belton baseball to overcome a bad start with bad defense.
South Grand Prairie took Game 1 of the best-of-three Region I-5A bi-district series by an 8-7 decision in eight innings at Warrior Field with the winning run coming on a no-out RBI single by Jason Jones in the bottom of the eighth Thursday.
Jones was set up by Paul Aguilar and Darrion Scott drawing walks off Belton relief pitcher Jayme Kidder then having Aguilar advance to third on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Greg Smyers in which Aguilar was called safe on a throw to third by reliever Shane Stafford.
The loss forces Belton (20-11) to win Game 2 of the series that starts at 7:30 tonight at Belton’s Tiger Field in order to keep their season alive. If the Tigers, which had an eight-game winning streak snapped, win tonight a third and deciding game would be played at LaGrave Field in Fort Worth on Saturday, starting at 6 p.m.
While Thursday’s game was decided in the eighth what hurt the Tigers especially was their inability to stop the Warriors in the first and sixth innings. South Grand Prairie scored four runs in the first with the help of three Belton errors.
After Scott led off the inning with a walk he scored when a throw to first by Belton Jared Janczak on a sacrifice bunt by Smyers was off target,
Jason Jones followed with a RBI infield single then Patrick Stratton hit a single to center and advanced to second on a throwing error by center fielder Cooper. Jones scored on a line-drive sacrifice fly to right by Dakota Lilies. Stratton’s courtesy runner Kris Peterson scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0. SGP extended its lead to 5-0 in the fourth when Kade Chapa reached when first baseman Chase Sortor couldn’t secure a throw by Janczak. Chapa stole second and third then came home of Smyers groundout
Belton had trouble with Smyers, a soft-tossing lefty with an effective curveball, until the fifth inning when the Tigers scored all of their runs, starting and ending with Ryne Niemi.
Niemi started the frame with a single to left. After Mark Herrington walked and Cooper reached on a fielding error by SGP third baseman Aguilar to load the bases Janczak drew a bases-loaded walk. Joey Hogan followed with a RBI single to left.
Walker Winders had the first big hit of the inning with a two-run double to right-center that knocked Smyers out of the game, After Sortor was hit by sidewinder reliever Kiwa Pecararo, Chase Cryer hit a RBI single to left to tie the game at 5-5. Niemi followed with a two-run single off the right foot of Pecararo to give Belton the lead and knocked the pitcher out of the game.
The lead held until the sixth inning. Aguilar blooped a single to right and Scott put down a bunt single with one out.
Jason Jones drew a walk to load the bases then Patrick Stratton drew a bases-loaded walk. SGP tied the game when Janczak was called for a balk, letting Scott score.
Janczak pitched well in receiving a no-decision. Three of the seven runs he allowed were unearned. He allowed four hits and six walks while recording 12 strikeouts. Belton had a 12-5 edge in hits with Winders, Niemi, Janczak, Hogan and Cryer providing two each, but the Tigers made six errors.
SGP reliever Thomas Hardin (1-0) picked up his first win of the season, pitching 1 2/3 innings in relief while allowing one hit. Kidder (2-2) took the loss. Jones finished 2-for-4 and was SGP’s lone multi-hit batter.
Belton’s probable starter for today is Justin Golden (6-2) while Simon Sedillo (5-3) is expected to get the call for SGP.