HARKER HEIGHTS — The Knights found themselves in another duel of arms on the mound Tuesday, and once again they came out on top.
Harker Heights scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and held Shoemaker to one run in the top of the seventh to win 3-1.
Jacob Mitchell threw a complete game in the victory, allowing just one unearned run on four hits and two walks while striking out nine.
Mitchell had some command issues early on, as he hit two batters in the first inning. But he quickly settled in and pitched a gem.
“I always come out confident because my coaches always call a great game,” the senior said. “In the beginning, I struggled a little bit with the zone, but I knew I had a great defense behind me. I just needed to settle down and find it.”
Grey Wolves starting pitcher Jose Hernandez also threw well Tuesday. He tossed six innings and allowed just three runs — one earned — on three hits and four walks with four strikeouts.
“He’s been a leader since day one,” Shoemaker head coach Robert Conley said. “He’s been the guy that’s been getting everything lined up and getting everything going for the pitchers and everybody. Every time he’s on the mound, we have a chance to win.
“Everything was moving good tonight. He located and threw the ball well. I feel for him for throwing that good of a game and coming out on the wrong side of it.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Daniel Cole led off for the Knights (6-11- 1, 3-2 District 8-6A) and powered a double to deep center field. Two batters later, he stole third and scored on a wild pitch to put Harker Heights ahead 1-0.
With two runners on later in the inning, Jackson Rinehart hit a high fly ball to left-center that should have been the final out, but a miscommunication by Shoemaker’s left and center fielders allowed the ball to fall for a two-base error. Tre Martin and Kainoa Rillera scored, and Harker Heights took a 3-0 advantage into the seventh.
Auston Christoff led off the seventh for the Grey Wolves (2-14, 0-5) by looping a single to left field before being lifted for courtesy runner Juan Trevino. An error and a groundout allowed Trevino to advance to second and third, respectively, and he scored on a wild pitch to make the score 3-1, Knights.
But with two outs and two runners on, Mitchell induced a soft grounder back to the mound for the final out to preserve the win.
Cole was 2 for 3 at the plate, and Harker Heights head coach Randy Culp said having a player like Cole in the lineup was a luxury.
“I’m proud of Daniel for making something happen again tonight,” Culp said of the senior. “He did an awesome job. He’s been like that all year for us.
“He’s hitting the ball hard, and that was big-time in the sixth.”
Culp added that Mitchell did a nice job of working through his early control issues to give the Knights a chance.
“I’m proud of him and the way he fought back,” Culp said. “In the last inning, too, he was getting up there in his pitch count, but he got the job done. He got a lot of weak ground balls and got a lot of strikeouts, and it was a good performance by him.”
Despite the loss, Conley felt Shoemaker played well overall.
“I thought we played together as a team,” he said. “We were picking each other up and rooting for each other, and we were in it till the end. Jose pitched a great game, and we can’t ask for more than what he did on the mound.
“It just came down to a couple of plays that didn’t get made, and we had a chance to win at the end. But it just didn’t go our way.”
The two teams will finish up their two-game set Friday at 7 p.m. at Shoemaker.