LORENA — Colton Robello wouldn’t let any distractions get to him.
Leading by a run with the top of the lineup up for Lorena, the Gatesville senior trusted in his defense and knew his team was in good shape.
With a runner on first and two outs, Robello got Lorena’s Bryce Strahan to hit a hard smash to left field that left fielder Billy Latham reached back and snagged with the tip of his glove for the final out to preserve a crucial 4-3 road victory for Gatesville in District 17-4A.
“We kind of let the ball fall in before that and I thought we should have made a play on that,” said Gatesville head coach David Truss. “When I first heard the ball hit the bat there, I thought it was going to fall in the gap and we were going to have to go to extra innings or something.”
“That was a huge play by Billy. He’s a senior out there and has been a four-year starter and he really had a good jump on that ball and made a nice stab at it,” Truss said.
The Hornets got things started in the first inning when Colton Washburn hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Payton Bates. On the throw home, Jared Butler, who was on first, darted to second. The Lorena catcher threw down to get the runner, but his throw sailed over the shortstop’s head and allowed a second runner, Zach Mueller, to score.
Gatesville went up 3-0 in the third. Bates singled and, one out later, Mueller hit a hard smash to third one out later that got under the third baseman’s glove and into left field, putting runners on corners with one out.
Butler then preceded to rip a ball up the middle, which scored Bates.
Lorena managed to get two runs back in the bottom half of the frame on a Hayden Schrader single and Strahan’s triple.
In the fourth, the Hornets scored another run on a Seth Trotter groundout.
Gatesville (4-11, 3-1) never trailed in the game, although in the fourth and fifth innings, Lorena had the tying run at third base each inning.
In the fifth, Lorena (8-7, 3-1) picked up two hits, the latter produced a run on a single by Strahan, but with a runner on third, Robello got AJ Bell to pop out to catcher Hunter Crawford.
Crawford went all the way to the screen behind home plate and nabbed the ball right before it hit the net.
The Leopards went in order in the sixth when Robello got three groundouts.
Robello earned the victory by going all seven innings and allowing three runs on six hits while striking out two.
“I wasn’t paying attention to anyone there in the seventh inning. I took out all the distractions away in my mind and went out there and just pitched. I did my best and left it all out there on the field,” Robello said.
For the game, Gatesville picked up eight hits and was led at the plate by Butler, who went 3 for 3 with a run batted in. Bates finished 2 for 3 in the contest. Ryan Stovall picked up a single and added a double.
Truss was impressed with the way his pitcher battled all game and never gave in.
“I thought he was outstanding. He has pitched well all year long, but that’s the first time he has been able to hold it together for seven full innings,” Truss said.
He’s been good, but he hasn’t been like he was tonight, and he was at his best tonight.”