LAMPASAS — With District 8-6A play starting on Tuesday, Killeen looks to learn from its two losses Friday in the Lampasas tournament.
The Kangaroos started the morning with an 11-10 loss against Marble Falls before facing Brownwood.
“We knew there were a couple guys that were going to start on Tuesday that weren’t going to pitch today,” Killeen head coach Donald Trcka said of the Roos’ strategy for the weekend. “We’ve revamped our pitching a little bit, threw in some kids to see how they do in certain situations.”
The top of the first inning started with junior left fielder Tavion Grant knocking a line drive down the left-field line for a double.
A sacrifice from senior Jullian Jasmin got Grant safely to third and within scoring position as Kevin Vargas Cruz came up to bat.
Vargas Cruz hit a low grounder to Lions shortstop Jakob Dorsett, whose throw went past the first baseman to bring in Grant for a 1-0 Roos lead.
The wind started to pick up as Brownwood came up to bat.
A base hit into left field from Cain Kittrell started the half for the Lions.
With one out, Kittrell advanced to third on a fly ball, then scored on a ground ball to tie the game at 1.
The Roos failed to add runs in the second inning but limited the Lions from adding to their score as starting pitcher senior Bo Buckley sat Brownwood in just 10 pitches.
It was a different story in the bottom of the third inning as Buckley started by striking out Reese Rodgers before hitting Kittrell in the left shoulder, putting him on base.
Kittrell stole second before scoring on a base hit to put the Lions up 2-1.
Buckley quickly finished the inning as Rylan Reagan went down swinging.
Both teams failed to reach base in the fourth inning, but as the sun started to peak through the clouds, the winds started to change for Killeen.
First, junior Lanzo Alnaldo found a hole in center field and safely found his way on base. Next up, junior Marcus Clater popped the ball high into right field with no one near the ball as Brownwood had shifted its defense over to the left.
Clater’s double had the Roos’ inscoring position as the winds started to pick up again and Grant was back at the plate.
Grant hit a line drive straight to third base and Alnaldo was caught in a rundown. But the throw to the plate was wild and Alnaldo scored as Kittrell chased the ball down behind home plate.
Tied once more with Brownwood, 2-2, Killeen had runners on second and third as Jasmin came up to hit.
He walked to load the bases.
Vargas Cruz looked for more holes in the Lions defense but hit a ground ball to second and was tagged out at first.
“We found that when we pitch well, we play a lot better and we stay in close in ball games,” Trcka said. “We just have to get that big hit when we have runners in scoring position and we didn’t do that today.”
With a runner on in the bottom of the fifth, Buckley worked Kittrell to a full count before Kittrell popped the ball into deep center field. The ball bounced over the wall for a double to put the Lions up 3-2.
Gavon Clemons drove in another run with a hit.
With runners on the corners, Trcka made his way to the mound to have a word with his pitcher.
Another grounder from Hayden Donahoo brought in another run and the Lions led 5-2.
Brownwood added another run on a wild pitch.
Killeen tried to find momentum once more as Alnaldo dropped a hit into center field to bring Taylor home, but it wasn’t enough as the Lions won 6-3 in six innings.
“They’re always going to fight to the end,” Trcka said of his team’s resilience. “They’re going to battle to the very last out.”
For Trcka, this tournament is about getting his team more games in order to prepare for the district run ahead that starts on Tuesday.
“We’re going to tell them they just need to flush it; it’s over and done with,” Trcka said of his team moving on from days like this. “They just need to come back tomorrow and go back to work.”
Killeen will end the tournament this morning at 9 against Jarrell.