By Tony Altobelli
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE Apparently, the Copperas Cove baseball team is learning from their nondistrict trials and tribulations.
Despite losing a three-run lead in the top of the seventh, the Bulldawgs hung tough and answered Harker Heights' late rally by edging the Knights 6-5 in both teams' District 13-5A opener on Tuesday night.
"We just weren't supposed to win 5-2, I guess," CCHS coach Brian Jost said. "Earlier in the season, Waco came back and beat us and we talked about learning from that experience.
"It's looking like the boys have grown up in the last couple of games."
Logan Brock broke the 5-5 tie in the bottom of the seventh when he beat out an infield single to shortstop, scoring Travis Wheeler from third.
In a game where both teams made the exceptional plays throughout the night, the game came down to which team made more of the average plays and that stat weighed heavily on the side of the Bulldawgs (5-10 overall).
For the Knights (8-10 overall), a 5-2 deficit was turned around in the top of the seventh. Cody Dunn led off the frame with a walk, advanced to second on a one-out single by Ryan Ballentine, went to third on a single to left by Cameron Kish and scored on an infield grounder by Trevor Butler to make it 5-3.
A fielder's choice off the bat of Dan Driver brought in Ballentine to make it 5-4 and with a full count and two outs, HHHS pitcher David Kipp helped his own cause with a clutch RBI single to center, scoring Butler.
"I'm very proud of the kids for the way they battled back tonight," HHHS coach Glenn Cunningham said. "We had an opportunity to win, but give credit to Cove. They played a great game tonight. They got a couple of breaks from defensive lapses on our part and they took advantage of them.
None more so than in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs and runners on second and third, Brock hit a chopper to short. The Heights' shortstop, instead of charging after the ball, waited for the high hop and his throw was a half-step too late.
Kipp threw a complete game and allowed only four earned runs, but took the loss. He walked two and struck out six.
For the Bulldawgs, Kyle Mathews also went the distance, allowing six hits and five runs (four earned). He walked two and struck out two.
"He got ahead early and that's important for him to be successful," Jost said. "He threw both of his pitches for strikes and was effective with his location."
Heights took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Dejuan Fulghum walked, stole second and scored on an RBI double to right-center by Kish.
Cove answered in the bottom of the second when John Scalsky doubled to right-center and scored on an RBI single by Michael Carter. Carter finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
After the Dawgs added two unearned runs in the fourth to make it 3-1, shortstop Brent Garner made it 5-1 with a two-run home run to left, following a leadoff single by Wheeler.
To Kipp's credit, the righty settled down and retired the next six batters before the fateful seventh.
Scalsky went 2-for-3 with two runs scored for the Dawgs, while Kipp and Kish each added a pair of hits for the Knights.
Cove returns to action on Friday at Bryan, while the Knights host Shoemaker.
Contact Tony Altobelli at firstname.lastname@example.org