By Matthew Girard
Killeen Daily Herald
GEORGETOWN – Georgetown scored just one run and that was all starter Taylor Jungman needed as the University of Texas-bound right-hander nearly threw a no-hitter in a 1-0 win against Harker Heights on Saturday at Eagle Field in the two teams bi-district playoff game.
With the win, the Eagles won the best-of-three series 2-0 and ended the Knights' season.
Jungman – a 6-foot-5 senior – pitched seven shutout innings, struck out 13 Knights hitters and was one strike away from throwing a no-hitter. After center fielder Jason Stone gave the Eagles (25-8) their lone run on a RBI single that drove in right fielder Morgan Micken in the bottom of the first inning, Jungman asserted himself in the top of the second.
Cody Dunn popped out to right and David Kipp grounded out to second for the first two outs of the inning, but then Jungman dialed in and struck out Tommy Seigman with a 92 mph fastball. The Knights (14-15-1) wouldn't put a ball in play again until the top of the sixth inning, as Jungman got 10 straight outs on strikeouts between the second and sixth innings.
Harker Heights coach Glenn Cunningham said there is a reason Jungman is a top prospect.
"You don't see a guy like that every day in high school baseball," Cunningham said. "It's hard to make the adjustment right away and he's just an outstanding pitcher with great stuff. We knew it was going to be a battle."
Jungman faced the minimum through the first four innings, but lost the perfect game after Korey Wacker drew a walk. Wacker stole second, but Jungman struck out the next three hitters to get out of the inning.
The Knights got another runner in scoring position the next inning after a scary moment when Jungman hit Seigman in the helmet with a high-80s fastball. The left fielder shook off the cobwebs and swiped second on the next pitch, but Ethan Vernon and Robbie Belliveau struck out to end the inning.
Harker Heights starter David Kipp (7 IP, 6 hits, 5 K's) ended his counterpart's bid for a no-hitter in the top of the seventh with a single to center field with two outs and a 1-2 count. Kipp stole second, but Jungman sealed the sweep of the series with a 92 mph fastball for his 13th strikeout of the game.
"We had some opportunities, but we just didn't get it done," Cunningham said. "Our kids battled and I'm proud of them for that. There are a lot of good kids in that group."
Despite not getting any help from his offense, Kipp kept the Knights in the game by pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the first and only allowing one other runner to reach third the rest of the game.
Georgetown coach Danny Wallace said Kipp threw an outstanding game against the Eagles.
"He pitched well and battled and that's what happens in the playoffs," Wallace said. "Seniors go out there, and if they are pitchers, they don't want to let it be their last performance and he competed with us."
Cunningham said he couldn't have asked for more from his pitcher on Saturday.
"Kipp threw a great ballgame against a great team," Cunningham said. "He left it all out on the field and he gave us every opportunity to win. We played good defense behind him, he worked himself out of a couple of jams and he hung in there.
"The other guy was just a little bit better. He's a good pitcher and he's as good as he is advertised to be. We just couldn't catch up with him today."
Although the Knights season is over, Cunningham said he was proud of his team, especially his seniors.
"I just wanted to let them know how special they are," Cunningham said about what he told his seniors after the game. "We've been together for three years now and I just wanted to let them know how I feel about them. They are a special group.
"The other thing was that they were a group of seniors that hung together when things didn't look real good. The other guys came in and did a good job behind them and I'm proud of them for that. Those guys hung in there and battled and got into the playoffs, and played really well against an outstanding baseball team."
Georgetown advances to the area round of the playoffs and will face the winner of the Klein Collins/The Woodlands College Park bi-district game.
Contact Matthew Girard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569.