HARKER HEIGHTS — Daniel Cole knows how good San Angelo Central is.
The Bobcats came into the game leading the district and are having one of their best seasons in school history, but on Friday night, it was Cole’s night.
The senior was untouchable, limiting the Bobcats to just one hit, an infield single in the fifth inning, that just got by the third baseman. Cole issued three walks, while striking out eight batters in the complete-game win.
The victory moved the Knights within a game of district co-leaders Central and Waco Midway with two games remaining. The Knights close the season with two games against rival Killeen.
“All season long I’ve really been working on establishing my fastball,” Cole said. “Against Belton, Midway and Ellison I struggled with my fastball and tried to throw my off-speed pitches too much.
“I think these past two games I have done a good job of kind of being my old-self and establishing my fastball and hitting all of my spots. When you hit your spots inner half, you can really break them off with the curveball when they aren’t expecting it.”
On the other side, Central southpaw Jonathan Limon was nearly as dominant. The lefty matched Cole pitch-for-pitch until the bottom of the fourth when the bottom of the order came through for Harker Heights (11-13-1, 8-4) head coach Randy Culp.
Jacob Mitchell reached on an infield single and Kaven Jones doubled to start the inning. After Limon got a strikeout, Matt Smith was hit by a pitch to load the bases for eight-hole hitter Zane Wallace.
The right-handed batter laced a 3-2 pitch into left field, which scored Mitchell and brought the Knights faithful to their feet.
“When the bottom of your order is helping you like that, you’re going to win some games,” Culp said. “Zane (Wallace) came up huge for us with two outs there in the fifth. To come through like that says a lot about the group of guys we have.”
Central (19-10, 9-3) tried to answer in the top of the fifth when Avery Whitehead reached on an infield single, and JD Aguilar walked with nobody out. Cole then proceeded to get Brandon Pfingsten to hit into a fielder’s choice and struckout the next two Bobcat hitters to get out of the jam.
“Daniel is just a competitor,” said San Angelo Central head coach Patrick Penry. “As far as being able to change speeds and mix it up at any count, he was dominant. We just couldn’t come up with a key hit, and that is what happens when you face a guy who is good like that.”
Tip your hand to that guy (Cole), he was on tonight.”
Heights went up 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth on a Tre Martin sacrifice fly to left field. Two runs was all the hard-throwing right-hander needed in the game.
“Central is a really good hitting team and to give up one little infield hit to a team like that says a lot about the kind of stuff that Daniel Cole has,” Culp said.
At the plate, the Knights registered five hits in the game. Mitchell, Jones and Wallace all reached base twice for Heights. Jones finished 2 for 3. Cole added a double to go along with his gem on the mound.
With two games remaining on the regular season against Killeen next week, Culp knows that his team will get challenged by the Roos and needs to be ready to compete.
“We want to be sharp, crisp and finish up to get ready to go in the playoffs. Our team needs to have a good next few days of practice and execute down the stretch.
Killeen has beaten Belton and Ellison so we know that they are a good team. We have to stay focused and get ready to get after it,” Culp said.