Tuesday’s rain delayed game play but it didn’t slow down Killeen as they beat Shoemaker 5-3 at home Tuesday night.
Some area games were postponed to today after rain and lightning warnings Tuesday afternoon but both teams wanted to play and agreed to push the game start to 7:30 p.m. as the clouds passed.
Shoemaker tried to get the game going early when first baseman Burt Cruz knocked one into deep center field but was tagged out trying to stretch a double into a triple.
“Guys get thrown out, that’s completely on me,” Grey Wolves head coach Robert Conley said. “We’ve got some pretty talented guys and I think they can do a lot we’re always going to try and push the envelope and be aggressive.”
Kevin Vargas-Cruz hit a grounder to left field and caused some confusion for the Grey Wolves which allowed Brandon Fox to run home and put the Kangaroos up 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
Killeen quickly came up to bat again in the second inning as shortstop Jake Escalante made a diving catch on a pop fly, holding his glove up to show he made the catch to the excitement of the Roos crowd.
Maker Nena popped one out to left field where Escalante was waiting to make the catch and end the inning.
Escalante returned after an injury earlier this season, “It kind of puts kids in the positions they’re supposed to be playing,” head coach Donald Trcka said of his return.
“I thought defensively overall we looked really good, probably our best fundamentally sound defensively that we’ve played all season.”
Shoemaker struggled to get into scoring position as James Bowyer came up to bat and chopped the ball straight to starting pitcher Alnaldo Lanzo.
Lanzo turned around for the throw to Vargas-Cruz who sent the ball to Bo Buckley at third in time to tag out Ozias Wright as he tried to slide into third.
Killeen’s defense kept Shoemaker at bay but they looked to add more cushion to their lead as Vargas-Cruz came up to bat with Julian Jasmin on base.
Vargas-Cruz sent the ball into deep left center field and it dropped just short of the wall for a double touring home Jasmin and give Killeen a 2-0 lead.
A defensive double play from the Roos but a stop to the Grey Wolves attempts to get within scoring
position when Nena grounded the ball straight Escalante who turned the ball to Lanzo for the out at second and then to Jackson Taylor at first.
Ben Hamilton got on base and stole second but was picked off at first when catcher Rafael Bearstine caught glimpse of him stealing third and made the play to Buckley for the third out.
“We don’t really practice that but he has my back, I have his back so that’s what teammates are for,” Bearstine said of the play.
A single from Tavion Grant brought home Buckley in the bottom of the fifth, followed by an RBI single from Brandon Fox to bring in Grant and give the Roos a 4-0 lead.
Fox stole his way to second and third base before stealing home on a pass ball, giving Killeen a 5-0 lead at the end of five complete innings.
“We hit the ball in with runners in scoring position which is a plus,” Trcka said of his teams performance, “we still need to clean up some, but overall, I thought we hit the ball well.
“We played good defense and we pitched well.”
The smooth defense started to have some issues as errors added up in the top of the 6th as Jasmin threw home to Bearstine from deep left field but the ball flew past the catcher allowing the Grey Wolves to score.
A pass ball allowed a second Shoemaker run to come in as the Roos led 5-2 going into the last inning.
“Things didn’t fall our way tonight but we’ll battle back on Friday and we’ll get it done,” Conley said.
Escalante turned his third double play of the night but Nena got things going for the Grey Wolves once more with a base hit into left field.
Ben Hamilton then singled into right field for an RBI to put Shoemaker down 5-3. Shoemaker couldn’t catch up as Wright grounded out at first to end the game.
“We got to clean some stuff still but everyday the kids come out, they compete, they work hard, and that’s all we can ask for,” Trcka said.