HARKER HEIGHTS — Daniel Cole has been difficult to beat in the second half of the district season on a normal night.
But coming off of a great bullpen session before the game Tuesday, the task proved nearly impossible.
Cole fanned 12 batters as Harker Heights defeated Shoemaker 4-0 to remain in a tie with third-place Temple heading into a rematch with the Wildcats on Friday.
It was the second time this season that Heights (16-7, 7-4 8-5A) shut out Shoemaker (8-16, 2-9). The Knights defeated the Grey Wolves 10-0 in the first meeting.
Heights may not have hung double digits this time, but Cole — who scattered five hits over seven innings and walked none — made sure that wasn’t necessary.
“I was feeling real confident with myself,” Cole said. “I had the best bullpen I’ve had in a long time, so I knew coming out I was going to be throwing the ball good. I just had to throw strikes and let my defense play behind me.”
Shoemaker pitcher Raven Sauceda allowed just five hits as well, but Heights took advantage of the Grey Wolves’ miscues and smart running on the base paths to string together runs.
The Knights’ Kyle Skelton reached on a one-out walk in the top of the first then stole second before coming around to score on a wild pitch two batters later.
Heights then took advantage of a leadoff walk in the top of the second as Stephen Shaw advanced to second on a wild pitch before Wilson Owens drove him in with an RBI single to right.
The Knights’ only extra-base hit of the game came in the bottom of the third when Tyler Torres slapped an RBI double to right for a 3-0 lead.
For Torres, who recently moved down in the lineup, it was an encouraging sign at the plate.
“It felt good to finally make contact with the ball again,” Torres said. “We all started hitting the ball early in the game. It felt good for the whole team to start jelling again and start getting back on top of things from that close game with Ellison — get back to our old ways.”
Cole, meanwhile, continued dealing as the fourth inning completed a stretch in which he retired nine of 10 straight batters, including striking out four in a row, a feat he repeated later in the game.
“He just has a presence about him,” Heights head coach Glenn Cunningham said. “He knows what he’s doing, he knows what we’re trying to do and he just does a great job with it.”
Heights added its final run of the game when Skelton hit an RBI single in the sixth for a 4-0 lead.
Now, after fending off the teams trying to catch them in the district standings, the Knights have a chance to move up in the standings Friday against Temple.
And Cole is certainly a big reason why.