The base runners were aboard first and second base with no outs; there was nothing Raven Sauceda could do about them, now.
The Grey Wolves pitcher, frustrated for putting his team in this bind, was made more aware of the defense around him as they called out words of encouragement.
“They were saying, ‘Come on, Raven. We still got this.’ I was just agreeing with them. I’m just going to listen to my team instead of doing all on my own,” Sauceda said. “I have a team behind me, so I just said to myself, ‘If I want to win this ballgame, I have to stay within myself, instead of getting mad at myself.’”
Sauceda sat down the next three Lorena batters in order in the sixth inning, then struck out two of the four batters he faced in the seventh and Shoemaker beat Lorena 5-1 in its final round-robin game Friday.
The Grey Wolves (5-4) won three of four in the first two days of the Wolf Pack Classic baseball tournament, and face Burnet, which beat Shoemaker 13-3 earlier in the day Friday, in a championship semifinal this afternoon at 1:15 p.m. at Shoemaker.
Harker Heights (4-4), which was the only team to win all four of its round-robin games, earned the tournament’s top seed and plays fourth-seeded Lorena in the other semifinal this morning at 11 a.m. The championship game is at 3:45 p.m.
After outscoring Waco University and Little River-Academy 29-8 on Thursday, Shoemaker had just five hits and committed three errors in the loss to Burnet.
“At Waco, we won our first two and then kind of fell off the last two. I told them, ‘Hey, you got to learn to overcome that stuff. You can’t just think you can play two games at a time and think you’re going to win some ballgames and things will change. You’ve got to play multiple games, be competitive,’” said Shoemaker coach Harry Zambrana. “We talked about that, I got onto them pretty good after (the Burnet) game and they responded, finally. And, they played good baseball against Lorena.”
Sauceda struck out nine and gave up just four hits to the Leopards, who beat Shoemaker 4-3 in their season-opener last Monday. Jamie Funk was 3-for-4 with an RBI double, Albert Castro was 1-for-3 with a triple and Wade Corn was 2-for-3 with a huge RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning that gave the Grey Wolves a 4-1 lead. Funk stretched the lead to 5-1 with his double that plated Elijah Hilliard, who reached on an throwing error.
John Gueits had six putouts at short stop for the Grey Wolves and hit a groundout RBI in the third that gave Shoemaker a 2-0 lead. Sauceda followed Gueits with his only hit, a double that scored Funk for a 3-0 lead.
Shoemaker loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth inning, but Castro struck out and Lorena opened the sixth inning with a lead-off single from Jared Smith and Dylan Nichols followed that with a walk.
Sauceda got Collin Sharp to fly out to center field and induced Dane Lovejoy and Bobby Strahan into ground outs to get out of the sixth-inning jam after giving up just a single run. Shoemaker plated two runs in the bottom of the frame.
“I told the kids we’re going to need five to win and they went out and gave me five, what I needed,” Zambrana said. “Those (last) two innings were major. Raven got into a little bit of trouble, but he pitched out of it and thankfully we got the W.”
Heights wins two more
Michael Zapata struck out seven and surrendered just five hits and Harker Heights shut out Little River-Academy, 5-0.
Cody Plagens was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run for the Knights, who won their fourth straight game and locked up the tournament’s No. 1 seed after scoring a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings.
Robbie Sluss tripled twice and scored two runs, and Caleb Dean was 1-for-3 with two RBIs to lead the Knights to a 3-1 win over Waco University. Tyler Torres gave up four hits and one earned run while striking out two and walking two to pick up his first win of the season.
Dean scored Sluss twice for a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Dean’s sacrifice in the first inning plated Sluss for a 1-0 lead and then hit an RBI single in third for the 2-0 lead. Waco University plated one run in the fifth. Willie Lopez scored on Kyle Randal’s sacrifice in the sixth for the Knights’ 3-1 lead.
Killeen finishes 0-4
Daniel Vega was 4-for-5 with a double in Killeen’s final two games, but the Roos (1-6) lost to Burnet, 7-1, and Lorena, 15-3, to finish 0-4 in the tournament.
“It’s disappointing, but we saw some positive things,” said Killeen coach Donald Trcka. “The kids continued to play hard, continued to compete and as long as we do that, we’ll be OK.”
Vega was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBI and Garrett Gaskamp was 1 for 1 with a double the Roos’ loss to Burnet. Gaskamp twice reached base on errors and scored both times against Lorena, which plated five runs in the first inning and six in the fourth.
Vega, Jacob Hinojos and Rene Ramirez were all 2 for 3 in the loss to Burnet, which scored four runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-0 lead into the sixth.
Copperas Cove lost to Waco University 3-1 and Little River-Academy 7-3 and finished 0-4 in the tournament.