By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
Five years ago, Bryan skipper David Powers learned an invaluable lesson.
Ranked among the best in the state during a 30-win campaign in 2007, the Vikings were nevertheless bounced from the regional quarterfinals because of an overall lack of depth.
That shouldn't be a problem this year.
With one of their better hitters on the bench with an injury, and two more struggling at the plate, Powers found just how deep his team is during an 8-4 victory Wednesday over host Ellison.
"We have a lot of faith in them and they're going to have to come through big when and if we get to the playoffs," Powers said.
With returning all-district selection Colin Fry missing his second game with an injury, it was a pair of fill-ins that reaffirmed the Vikings' depth.
Regular third baseman Austin Gallego, who was replacing Fry at second, came through with a career game at the plate while reserve Clayton Blum earned praise from teammates and coaches going 1-for-3 in his second career start at third.
"Gallego doesn't have a great batting average - well he might now - but he has a great on-base percentage," Powers said.
Batting out of the 7-hole, Gallego finished 3-for-3 with three doubles - including two for RBIs. Only an intentional walk in the seventh kept him from making it four.
"I was just seeing the ball good," Gallego said. "I felt good during batting practice today and I was seeing the ball and hitting my pitches."
The Vikings' No. 5-9 batters combined to hit 9-for-15 (.600) with six RBIs, while leadoff hitter Jacob Huckaby was 0-for-4 and Texas-bound senior Ty Culbreth finished 0-for-3.
"It's pretty rewarding to see those kids come through," Powers said.
Bryan got on board early, and with authority, as No. 2 hitter Chandler Russell battled through a seven-pitch at-bat before sending Ellison starter Colby Reece's eighth offering well over the right-center field wall for a 1-0 first inning lead.
The Vikings (16-6, 6-2 12-5A) kept coming, adding two more in the top of the second with back-to-back doubles by Zac Slaydon and Gallego, who scored Slaydon and then came home himself on an RBI-sacrifice by No. 9 hitter Michael Miner.
The Eagles (2-20, 1-7) answered with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame with back-to-back doubles from Josh Perez and Felix Collazo. Marquis Brunson, who pinch ran for Collazo, scored on a pair of Bryan errors to cut it to 3-2 Bryan.
"I don't know what to say other than they're fighting, they're showing life," Ellison coach Kyle Allred said. "Baseball seems to matter to them."
The Vikings added another run on an RBI-single by Miner in the fourth and then put the game away with a pair in both the sixth and seventh, including an RBI-triple by No. 5 hitter Matt Muniz to start off the sixth.
Trailing 8-2 entering their final at-bat, Ellison took advantage of a couple of rare walks by Bryan reliever Marshall Laine as Felix Marbury and Garrett Sinclair scored on a two-out, 2-RBI single by Tyler Bark.