HARKER HEIGHTS — Hitless in his last four plate appearances dating back to Tuesday, Tyler Torres stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the second Friday with a free mind.
What Torres did at the plate, blasting a two-run home run over the right-field wall, ultimately helped free the minds of his teammates as well, as Harker Heights cruised to a 10-0 run-rule victory against Killeen at Harker Heights High School.
Torres and his four RBIs were big for the Knights as was pitcher Caleb Dean, who retired the first seven batters he faced in a one-hit shutout.
After a disappointing 4-1 loss to defending district champion Belton on Tuesday, the Knights (9-5, 1-1 8-5A) were happy to get back on a positive note, especially at the plate.
“It felt really good because we know we’re a good hitting team,” Dean said. “But (Belton pitcher Jared) Janczak is a really good pitcher. It was just nice to finally execute our good hitting in an actual game and just see it on the actual scoreboard that we’re a good team.”
Killeen committed four errors in the game. The loss dropped the Roos to 0-2 in league play (3-9 overall).
“Overall, we’ve got to cut down on some of the errors that we made early,” Killeen head coach Donald Trcka said. “We’ve got to swing the bat a little better than what we did tonight.”
After an RBI single by Michael Zapata and a sac fly by Daniel Cole staked Heights to a 2-0 lead in the first, Torres added to that lead in the second by swatting the first pitch over the right-field wall for a two-out, two-run home run.
Heights head coach Glenn Cunningham said he felt that loosened his team up, and Torres agreed.
“I came back from 0 for 3 against Belton, so it felt good to get back on track, get back on my leadoff position spot,” Torres said. “The whole team hit all-around just great.”
Torres got the scoring going again two innings later when he ripped a two-run double to center to put Heights up 6-0. Torres finished the game 2 for 3 with a double, a home run, two runs scored and a walk.
After an error allowed a run to score, Cole hit his second sac fly to give the Knights an 8-0 lead after four.
Dean, meanwhile, was dealing, never allowing a runner past second as the Roos’ only hit came on a Dale Wilmet double in the third.
Dean finished the shutout having allowed one hit while striking out seven and walking three.
“He was excellent with his fastball, it had a lot of life to it, and his curveball had a really good bite to it,” Cunningham said. “So he did a great job.”
The game ended by run rule in the fifth when a Killeen error allowed two Heights runs to score.
But what pleased Cunningham the most was seeing his team repeat the effort it gave in its district opener against Belton on Tuesday, even after a disappointing loss.
“What I liked best about our team tonight is that we came out with that intensity,” Cunningham said.
“We played with the same intensity that we did at Belton. And that’s what we wanted to establish.”
And with the nerves out of the way, and the effort consistently high, Heights will look to continue its momentum Tuesday when it takes on rival Ellison.