FLOWER MOUND — The conclusion of Belton’s season came down to fight and finish. The Tigers showed they could fight back with rallies multiple times, but finishing them proved elusive.
Flower Mound Marcus defeated Belton 7-4 on Saturday at Marauder Field in Game 2 to sweep the teams’ Class 6A area-round series.
Belton (14-17-3) was eliminated in the area round for the third time in four years and hasn’t advanced to a regional quarterfinal since 2012. Marcus (25-10-1) advanced to face Waco Midway and former Belton head coach Eddie Cornblum in a Region I quarterfinal series next week.
The Tigers trailed 5-1 entering the sixth. Payton Vybiral started a two-out rally by poking an RBI single to left field to score Preston Rozner. Aaron Krueger followed with a two-run double to right-center to score Holden Goldston and Vybiral to pull the Tigers within 5-4. Marcus relief pitcher Tyler Morgan got Tannor Fischer to ground out to end the rally.
Marcus scored two runs in the bottom of the frame on an infield single by Air Force Academy-signee Blake Covin and a fielder’s choice by Demitri Petrides. Morgan retired the Tigers in order in the seventh for his second save in the series, aided by a spectacular diving catch by Vincent Mazzola. Morgan got out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning of Marcus’ 6-4 win in Game 1 Friday at Belton’s Tiger Field.
Belton also had rallies stall in the fourth and fifth innings Saturday.
Trailing 4-0 going into the fourth, the Tigers drew three straight walks, the last a bases-loaded variety by Rozner to bring home Fischer. Cayden Lopez relieved Marcus starter Justin Kleinsorge after the Rozner walk and got a pair of strikeouts to escape a bases-loaded jam.
In the fifth inning, Vybiral and Krueger opened the frame with a single and walk, respectively, but ended up stranded. Lopez (1-0), playing in just his second game this season because of a shoulder injury, got four strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings of relief for the win.
“We left too many people on base,” Vybiral said. “We couldn’t get the timely hits, honestly.”
Marcus opened the scoring in the second when Zach Jordan hit a one-out double to center and came home on Will Harrison’s single to left.
In the same frame, Belton starting pitcher Dylan Blomquist struggled with control. He gave up five consecutive walks with two outs, with Blake Colvin and Ryan Hunt drawing bases-loaded free passes to extend the Marcus lead to 3-0.
While a Harrison sacrifice fly to left in the third gave the Marauders a 4-0 advantage, Blomquist (4-3) composed himself for a decent outing. He went five innings, allowing just one more walk after the second, allowed five earned runs and five hits with three strikeouts in the loss.
“I don’t know why things didn’t work in the second inning. It felt good in the bullpen,” Blomquist said. “After the second inning, I composed myself in the dugout. It was a little bit mechanics, a little bit keeping my emotions under control.”
Vybiral, in his final game for Belton, reached base on all four of his at-bats with three singles and a game-opening walk.
“During practices the past few days I’ve worked on hitting to the opposite field,” Vybiral said. “It was more about making contact.”
While Belton finished with a losing record, coach Mark Krueger said a quality effort against Marcus, and beating District 7-6A champion Cedar Hill in a bi-district series last week, made up for losing three of four District 8-6A contests to end the regular season.
“Our kids competed well. I’m proud of them and I couldn’t ask for a better effort from those guys. We competed for 14 innings and never thought we would lose. In the playoffs we showed we can play with anybody in the state,” he said. “I told the returning players to remember this feeling.
“I want to get out of this round winning next year.”