TEMPLE — Temple coach Dallas Robertson said his team felt sick as it left Harker Heights on March 22, when the Knights rallied for three runs in their last at-bat for a one-run win.
A month later, the Wildcats made amends for that gut-wrenching defeat — a coveted piece of consolation near the end of a roller coaster season.
Aaron Wagaman struck out Josh Ratcliffe with the tying run on second base in the seventh inning to secure Temple’s 4-3 victory at Hallford Field that assured it a District 12-6A record of at least .500.
“We needed to come out and get this one, and finish it. Ironic how it came down to the last inning there,” said Robertson, whose team lost 4-3 in the first meeting with Heights — one of six district games decided by two runs or less. “Very proud of Wagaman saying, ‘I’m not going to let this happen.’”
Wagaman’s second strikeout of the frame prevented an encore performance of Knights heroics but couldn’t stop the inevitable.
Temple needed Tuesday’s win and another Friday along with two Copperas Cove losses to force a tie for the league’s fourth and final playoff spot. The Bulldawgs ended any last-day drama with a 3-1 nod over Killeen on Tuesday night, clinching the last entry into the postseason.
“Our goal wasn’t reached. But when we realized that, we huddled together and told them, ‘Look, that didn’t happen but this program has to go on and we’re playing for Temple High School from here on out. They grabbed a hold of that,” Robertson said.
Temple (12-16-1, 8-7) batted around in the opening inning, pocketed a quick 4-0 lead and held on.
Xavier Aviles scored first, sprinting home when catcher Jackson Reinhart threw to first base on a dropped third strike. Adrian Carlos laid down a squeeze bunt to score Brandon Goynes for 2-0, and Tyson Magana and Isaiah Fach followed with an RBI single and RBI double, respectively.
The Knights (12-13-1, 6-9) sliced the four-run deficit in half in the fourth with Brandon Kluna’s RBI double and Chan Reinhart’s run-scoring single.
Jackson Reinhart drove in Spencer Young with one out in the seventh to make it 4-3. Wagaman, who had relieved Temple starter Brandon Goynes in the sixth, got a fly out before the game-ending strikeout.
Corey Goynes allowed two runs on five hits. Young took over for Kluna in the second and held Temple scoreless.
Temple finishes the regular season at home Friday versus Waco Midway. Harker Heights travels to Killeen.
TUESDAY'S 12-6A BASEBALL
- Belton 12, Waco 2, 5 innings
- Copperas Cove 3, Killeen 1
- Temple 4, Harker Heights 3
- Waco Midway 6, Ellison 5