BELTON — Desperate to stay relevant in the playoff picture, the Killeen Kangaroos put up a valiant fight against the first-place Belton Tigers on Friday night.
Belton, though, put up a win, topping Killeen 5-2 in District 12-6A play to clinch a berth in the playoffs.
“Killeen has been playing well the last week,” Belton coach Mark Krueger said. “Both games against Midway and Temple they went to extra innings, so we were expecting a good game.”
They got one as the Tigers (21-4-1, 11-0) never had a comfortable lead until their final at-bat, in which they scored twice to break open the game.
In the at-bat, Belton’s Logan Riggins, Keagan Wolfe and Zach Alexander all reached to load the bases to start the inning. Chase Fentress then hit a blast to the center field wall to drive in two runs, but got somewhat unlucky by only getting credit for a fielder’s choice when all three runners paused briefly as center fielder Josh Weaver appeared to catch the ball, with Alexander retreating to first. His retreat set up a relatively easy force out at second for the first out of the inning, but gave the Tigers a 5-2 lead.
“I would take the two runs and let them have an out any day,” Krueger said. “Because those two runs were big for us.”
It was the only mistake the Tigers made all night, and starting pitcher Chase King retired the Roos (6-18, 2-9) in order in the top of the seventh to send the Tigers to the playoffs.
“We’re excited for this victory, “ Krueger said. “It’s nice, but we just take it one game at a time and don’t look ahead. “
The game had been a true battle until the sixth.
The Tigers took the lead in the second, taking advantage of some Killeen miscues. With two outs, Riggins hit a sharp grounder to shirt, which Alnaldo Lonzo couldn’t field cleanly. Wolfe then reached first safely when Killeen catcher Brandon Fox couldn’t hold onto strike three, which would have ended the inning. Alexander made the Roos pay with a single to left for a 1-0 lead.
The Kangaroos got their first hit and first run of the game in the fourth. Their first hit was two-out double down the left-field line by Jackson Taylor. Taylor scored the Roos’ first run when Lonzo followed with a double to the center field wall making it 1-all.
But the Tgers answered quickly with two doubles of their own in the bottom of the inning by Preston Rozner and Wolfe, who drove in Rozner. An inning later, Conner Carothers doubled in Christian Catillo for a 3-1 lead.
Killeen made it 3-2 in the sixth with a solo home run by Carol Roman, who took the loss.
DISTRICT 12-6A SCORES
- Belton 5, Killeen 2
- Copperas Cove 14, Harker Heights 0, 5 innings
- Temple 4, Waco 2
- Waco Midway 17, Shoemaker 2