By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
WACO - Walking to the plate, Emery Atkisson flashed a big smile toward the mound, where former Harker Heights teammate Hunter Mayo returned a grin of his own.
After ripping Mayo's first offering for a long foul ball, Atkisson felt the ire of his longtime friend as the second pitch curved a little too close for comfort.
"I told him I was going to dominate him pretty much," Mayo joked.
"At least he didn't strike me out," Atkisson countered.
Mayo pitched a 1-2-3 third inning, including forcing Atkisson to ground out to third.
Then he showed off his "wheels" with a stolen base and later scored during a three-run sixth inning as his Blue team pulled out a 6-4 victory over the White team in the senior edition of the fourth annual Central Texas Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game on Monday evening at Veterans Field.
"I don't think he's stolen a base since he was 12 years old, but it was funny watching him do it," Atkisson said. "He was saying before the game, 'I'm going to steal some bases,' and I was like, 'No you are not.' But the big boy got on and he stole him some bases, so I'm proud of him. It was funny."
While Mayo and fellow former Knights standout J.T. Gilmore found themselves on opposite sides from Atkisson, it was the joint effort from two former Belton Tigers that put the Blue team on top for good.
Trailing much of the game after the Blue team pulled ahead with a two-run third, the White team took advantage of three defensive errors, scoring three runs in the top of the sixth inning for a 3-2 lead.
After convincing the Blue team coaching staff to let him bat, Mayo reached on an error at third and then promptly stole second base thanks to an errant to second.
"All the pitchers were trying to show that they could run too and be athletes and not just goofy pitchers, so it was all fun," Gilmore said.
"I thought I was moving pretty fast," Mayo added.
Following a fielder's choice, Belton's Austin Bishoff drilled a comebacker up the middle off of Bartlett pitcher Bubba Luna to score Mayo and Temple's Joe Joe Garcia to retake the lead, 4-3.
"I had two strikes on me and I was just trying to get something I could hit and (Luna) hung a curvball so I just poked it up the middle," said Bishoff, who finished 1-for-2 with the two RBI.
But Dallas Baptist-bound Max Hogan made sure his former Tiger teammate didn't stay on the basepaths long, knocking in Bishoff with an RBI single to right-center field to make it 5-3 after six innings.
"It was pretty fun, especially getting to start together, so we were right next to each other like it was during the season," said Hogan, who started at second with Bishoff at first.
"It was good, and me and Max have been playing together for a long time, so it was good to get to end my last high school game with him (beside me)," Bishoff said.
The Blue team added one more in the seventh when Robinson's Mikey Bielamowicz reached on an error and then scored on another later that inning.
The White team kept it close with another run-scoring mistake by the Blue team when Copperas Cove's Warren Neely overthrew first base.
But that was all the offense they could muster, finishing with just four hits.
But in the end, the experience wasn't about anything on the scoreboard.
"Being in an all-star game, we're all out here just trying to have a good time playing together one last time," said Gilmore (1-for-2).
White 9, Blue 0 - Gatesville's Tyler Jaynes struck out three and allowed one hit in his two innings of work as one of four White team pitchers to hold the Blue team scoreless Monday afternoon in the Juniors game.
Jaynes, coming on in relief of starter Justin Rodriguez of Waco to start the third, worked a 1-2-3 inning and put down his first five batters before allowing an infield single to Wortham's Chris Lee in the bottom of the fourth.
But by then the White team already held a 2-0 lead after a two-run second when West's Dylan Janek scored on a wild pitch and Copperas Cove's Duncan Purnell plated Dane Lovejoy of Lorena with a sacrifice fly to center.
Nursing that 2-0 lead into the fifth, the White team opened things up with a pair of two-run innings in the fifth and sixth before nearly batting around in a three-run seventh inning.
Killeen's Daniel Vega finished 1-for-2 and scored on a RBI single from China Spring's Jason Prevatt in the two-run sixth.
Salado's Jon Franz doubled in the second inning for the Blue team while Eagles teammate Marshall Mann singled in the seventh for the White team but was thrown out at home.