COPPERAS COVE — Like its district season, Friday night began with promise for Harker Heights, only for the Knights to find themselves in a bit of a hole.
Yet in a fitting end to the regular season, Heights rallied one last time on the road, defeating Copperas Cove 6-4 for its sixth consecutive win.
The win set a school record for overall wins and district wins in a season for the Knights (18-8, 10-4 8-5A) while the loss eliminated Cove (13-11, 7-7) from the playoff race.
“A win’s a win. You’re always happy with wins,” Heights head coach Glenn Cunningham said with a smile. “But it was nice to finish the season with six straight wins.”
Heights began the game with back-to-back base hits only to follow with a double-play ball and a strikeout to end the inning as fast as it started.
Cove then took advantage of Knight errors to put Heights in an early hole later in the inning, scoring on three straight two-out errors to take a 3-0 lead after one.
The score remained the same for four innings as the Bulldawgs appeared in control of the game and their playoff fates.
“The kids played hard — played hard for me all season. I couldn’t be more proud of them,” first-year Cove head coach Dusty Brittain said.
“Things just didn’t go our way. Got on them early and things just didn’t go our way. That’s kind of been the way our season has been in district.”
Heights mounted a rally in the fifth, taking advantage of two Cove errors to pull within a run before center fielder Michael Rae Zapata tied the game by slapping a two-out RBI single to right.
Heights took its first lead of the game in the next inning, when catcher Landon Persick ripped an RBI single to right for a 4-3 advantage.
“I struggled the whole season getting hits,” Persick said. “And to be able to come through for my team, it feels great.”
Cove, meanwhile, cooled off considerably as Shepherd Mayo, Stephen Shaw, Tyler Torres and Caleb Dean combined to allow just one run on four hits in the final six innings. Shaw picked up the win on the mound with two scoreless innings after replacing Mayo in the fourth.
“When you get to the playoffs, you need as much pitching as you can get,” Cunningham said. “And you know what, the guys went in and did a pretty good job.”
Heights added two runs in the seventh on a Torres RBI single and a Wilson Owens sacrifice fly, which came in handy when Cove pulled within 6-4 on a Ryan Dorroh RBI triple in the bottom of the seventh.
The Bulldawgs got the tying runs on with two outs but were unable to complete the rally.
Heights, meanwhile, completed a historic regular season that it hopes will continue with a deep playoff run.
But either way, Cunningham is already proud of his young team.
“They play good solid baseball, and that’s the main thing,” Cunningham said. “They’ve kept themselves in games and I’m proud of them for that.”