WEST — Reese Perry’s single didn’t just score two runs. The solid line drive down the left-field line also lifted the stubborn cap on Belton’s offense that had lingered for about 24 hours and nine innings and set the stage for more baseball beyond Friday night.
Perry’s base hit uncorked a six-run third inning, plenty of support for starting pitcher Dylan Blomquist, and Belton downed Cedar Hill 8-2 on Friday to even the teams’ Class 6A bi-district best-of-three playoff series at a game apiece and force a deceive third game.
“That was a big confidence boost for us, first of all, because yesterday they weren’t falling as well as we would’ve liked them to,” Blomquist said of Perry’s run-scoring hit that snapped the Tigers’ nine-inning scoreless streak in the series. “That was big for us.”
It doesn’t get any bigger in the first round with Game 3 slated for 4 p.m. today right back at West’s Trojan Field for the third consecutive day.
The lefty Blomquist went 6 1/3 innings, striking out six, allowing seven hits and walking five. Aaron Krueger came on with runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the seventh and, after walking the first batter he faced, retired the next two on a line out and a ground out to close up shop.
Cedar Hill starter Thomas Dominguez took the loss, lasting 2 1/3 innings.
“That’s who we wanted on the mound today and, of course, he proved us right,” Belton coach Mark Krueger said of Blomquist. “Did great. Competed. Threw 110 pitches and nothing more you can ask of a guy.”
Added Blomquist: “I’m just glad that I could come out here and do it for the team because we’ve been struggling with some pitching lately, and I’m glad I could do my job. I’m just really happy we could pull it out. We felt pretty confident that we could compete with these guys. Yesterday, we didn’t show we could beat them but today we showed it really well.”
A day after being held scoreless and to three hits in a 1-0 Game 1 loss, Belton (13-15-3) had four hits through two innings but couldn’t capitalize on early chances and left four runners on base. However, the tough luck didn’t last much longer. Belton sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six runs on three hits and three errors in the third, giving itself some breathing room that it inflated with two runs in the sixth. The Tigers finished with eight hits.
Aaron Krueger and Tannor Fischer reached on back-to-back errors to begin the third before Perry popped an 0-2 pitch into left to plate his teammates for the 2-0 lead.
“It was a lot of momentum because we had a lot of trouble scoring in (Thursday’s) game. We were hitting but just right to people,” Perry said. “One finally got through, got us some runs, got us going. We had way more energy.”
Shawn Bulter followed with a single to center and he and Perry scampered home on a three-base error on Cedar Hill (14-9-1) right fielder Josh Howard, who misplayed Drew Cook’s fly ball, to push the advantage to 4-0. Preston Rozner and Krueger added RBI sacrifice fly outs to make it 6-0.
Butler and Cook drove in a run apiece with a fielder’s choice ground out and a fly out, respectively, in the sixth for Belton’s 8-0 lead. Cedar Hill countered with its two runs in its half of the sixth with help from Blomquist, who beaned a batter and walked one with the bases loaded.
“We had guys in scoring position the first two innings and then we get the big six-run cushion. That was a big hit from Reese to get us going and it just snowballed after that,” Mark Krueger said.
Payton Vybiral and Aaron Krueger had back-to-back singles to start the game, but Belton didn’t capitalize on the early offense. Vybiral was thrown out at third trying to advance on a wild pitch, and after a walk and ground out that moved runners to second and third, Dominguez froze Butler on strike three to escape the jam.
Blomquist walked two in the bottom of the first but wiggled out of trouble with a strikeout of Brandon Farrell to end the inning.
Rozner and Blomquist put together back-to-back one-out singles in the second but the Tigers again lacked the bit hit, and Dominguez induced a fly out and ground out to end the threat. Those two innings were a distant memory after Belton’s third-inning surge, and now focus shifts to today and putting together a similar outing.
“I just told them that after the game tomorrow, if you can look each other in the eye and you can say that you gave your fullest for seven innings, then I’m happy with the outcome,” Mark Krueger said.