BELTON — It’s been a couple of months since the Belton baseball team faced a sidearmed pitcher similar to the one it faced on Friday: South Grand Prairie’s Kiwa Pecararo.
The Tigers did eventually figure Pecararo out, but it was a couple of pitches too late.
Pecararo held Belton at bay most of the way and a seventh-inning rally by the Tigers fell short as they dropped a 3-1 decision in Game 2 of a best-of-three Class 5A bi-district playoff series at Tiger Field. Belton (20-9) also hurt its own cause by making two errors in the first inning when South Grand Prairie (17-15) scored all of its runs.
The outcome forces a third and deciding game at 6 tonight at Baylor University’s Baylor Ballpark.
Belton struggled with Pecararo’s curveballs and breaking balls that didn’t have a lot of velocity, but forced 15 groundouts. Pecararo (4-1) scattered seven hits and allowed no walks while striking out three.
In the seventh, the Tigers finally hit Pecararo hard. Jayme Kidder hit a two-out single to left and Coby Potvin followed with an RBI single to left, but the game ended when Mark Herrington hit a line drive to SGP right fielder David Alotta.
“He (Pecararo) had a lot of sinking and movement in his pitches,” Belton coach Eddie Cornblum said. “He did a real good job in keeping the ball down. Hats off to him.
“We haven’t seen a pitcher like him in awhile and not in district play.”
Tanner Frick (7-2) took the loss despite a strong outing. He allowed three runs, none of them earned, six hits and three walks with six strikeouts.
A slow start created a hole for the Tigers they couldn’t emerge from.
After Julian Vasquez led off the game with an infield hit and Paul Aguilar walked, both runners advanced on a balk. Belton shortstop Walker Winders could not handle a grounder by Patrick Clifford, allowing Vasquez to score. Aguilar came home on a groundout by Alotta, and Clifford scored when a throw to first by third baseman Herrington on a J.T. Jackson grounder was off target.
“We didn’t come out playing well, and I don’t know what that was,” Cornblum said. “I don’t think it was lack of preparation or lack of desire.”
SGP rebounded from a 9-0 loss to Belton in Game 1 Thursday in Grand Prairie. SGP coach Dennis Pelfrey was not surprised in the clutch play of Pecararo, who won Game 3 in last year’s Belton-SGP bi-district playoff series.
“That wasn’t Kiwa’s best game this year, but that was pretty typical for him,” Pelfrey said. “This is how we’ve been all year. When we get our backs to the wall, we battle.”
The lone Belton batter that had Pecararo down the whole game was Jared Janczak. The TCU signee was 2 for 3 with his lone non-hit a line-drive out.
Dustin Tish pitched two perfect innings in relief for Belton. Tish is a candidate to start Game 3 for Belton along with Kolton Boyd and Kidder. SGP will start either Stephen Yancey or Dylan Dover.
“Our message is we get to play another game. We won the flip to be the home team and we’re going to Baylor. The kids are excited about that,” Cornblum said. “They just need to have a short memory and just go