Shoemaker sophomore Jose Casillas knows it’s not a big deal to start a game on the bench.
The key is to stay loose, stay focused and once your number is called, come up big. By doing just that, he was able to keep the Grey Wolves’ playoff hopes alive.
Casillas’ pinch-hit single to right scored two runs and was the difference in Shoemaker’s 5-4 road win over Killeen during Friday’s District 8-5A contest.
“It’s kind of tough keeping warm, but when you’re called, you’ve got to go up and do what you’re supposed to do,” Casillas said.
The win keeps Shoemaker’s (8-15, 2-8) playoff hopes alive. The Grey Wolves are four games behind both Temple and Harker Heights for the final playoff spot in the district with four games remaining.
The Roos (3-18-2, 0-10) entered the game out of the playoff mix.
Shoemaker head coach Harry Zambrana knew that it was Casillas’ time to come into the game once runners were in scoring position.
“We have that kind of confidence in Jose,” Zambrana said. “He’s only a sophomore, but he plays big, he plays older and he came up and got a good hit for us.”
Casillas took four pitches from Killeen reliever Chris Barber before lining the shot to right that scored Raven Sauceda and Broderick Reed. He finished the game going 1 for 2 with two RBIs.
“I didn’t think it was going to bring in two runs,” Casillas said. “I thought I just got a nice hit.”
Killeen didn’t go quietly as the Roos attempted to rally for their first district win of the season.
Wes Brooks cut the Shoemaker lead to 5-4 after drawing a bases-loaded walk against Sauceda to score Barber with one out.
But Sauceda closed the door on Killeen by getting the next two batters to strike out and ground out.
“We had some base-running mistakes that cost us tonight and some clutch hits that didn’t come through,” Killeen head coach Donald Trcka said. “The kids fought, tried to come back and all you can ask is to have a chance.”
Barber had the best day from the plate for the Roos going 2 for 3 with a run scored while starting pitcher Wade Corn led the Grey Wolves going 2 for 3 with two runs scored.
Corn pitched six complete innings allowing three earned runs on five walks while striking out seven Roos. Killeen starter Doug Bell went four innings, allowing four earned runs on three hits and striking out four.
The win gives Shoemaker a season sweep of Killeen. The Grey Wolves defeated the Roos 11-7 during the first round of district play.
Corn scored the first run of the game after Sauceda grounded into an error in the top of the first, but Killeen responded with RBI singles from Bell and Adrian Spencer in the home half of the first to take a 3-1 lead.
“We just came out as a team today,” Sauceda said. “We were hyped up, nobody got down and we just kept cheering everybody up.”
Shoemaker goes for another district win when it visits Harker Heights while Killeen goes for its first district win at Waco Midway.
“I think it’s big for the kids to come out and get a ‘W’,” Zambrana said. “Not everything went our way tonight, but the kids stayed positive and kept their attitudes the way I wanted. Good things happen when they do that.”