HARKER HEIGHTS — The rally came up short.

Looking to climb the District 12-6A standings, Harker Heights entered the ninth inning of Tuesday’s extended affair tied with Waco 1-1, but the deadlock was snapped as the Lions recorded a pair of runs on a pair of hits.

And the Knights could not match the output.

Harker Heights pulled within a run on Brandon Kluna’s sacrifice fly but could not complete the comeback, falling 3-2 in extra innings.

The loss drops the Knights (11-11-1, 5-7) two games behind Temple with four games remaining in the regular season.

For most of the contest, however, it appeared Harker Heights was destined for a different outcome.

After a scoreless opening inning, Kluna posted the game’s first run as teammate Chan Rinehart hit a double deep to center field, and the one-run advantage held until momentum began to swing in the Lions’ favor in the fifth inning.

The Knights appeared poised to inflate their cushion after a pair of runners reached base on catching errors in the outfield with one out, but they could not take advantage.

During the next inning, though, Waco would.

The Lions capitalized on a Harker Heights’ error in the top of the sixth as catcher Jackson Rinehart’s throw sailed high while attempting to catch out a runner stealing third, and the miscue turned into the game-tying run.

Neither team was able to take control in the seventh or eighth inning despite the Knights leaving three runners stranded during the span.

Then, the Lions, who improved to 2-10 in district, delivered, scoring twice before Harker Heights escaped the top of the ninth with the bases loaded.

Jackson Rinehart and Easton Culp were each hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, and Jackson Rinehart crossed home plate two batters later on Kluna’s sacrifice fly, but Chan Rinehart followed by hitting a popup to right field for an easy out.

Led by Spencer Young (2 for 3) and Culp (2 for 4), the Knights finished with seven hits in the defeat. Kluna recorded eight strikeouts in seven innings on the mound before Riley Bridenstine came in and collected the pitching loss.

After playing a nondistrict game at Pflugerville on Saturday, Harker Heights concludes its regular-season schedule against three of the district’s top five teams, beginning Tuesday against Ellison.

TUESDAY'S 12-6A SCORES

  • Ellison 2, Copperas Cove 0
  • Temple 12, Shoemaker 2, 5 innings
  • Waco 3, Harker Heights 2, 9 innings
  • Waco Midway 12, Belton 2, 6 innings

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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