By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Slaton Meyer is neither an ace nor a closer, but the senior started strong and finished clutch.
Meyer, normally Gatesville's first baseman, threw 2 2/3 hitless innings as the Hornets built a 3-0 lead and then blanked Killeen in the seventh inning and Gatesville held on 4-3 Monday night.
"Just up one, I kind of got scared going in there (leading) 4-3," Meyer said. "I came in there with the mentality, just pitch-by-pitch, location, location. My arm was killing me, (so) I had to throw it slow just for locations."
Meyer sat down Killeen's first six batters, striking out three, and held the one-run lead in the seventh by retiring the Roos in just six pitches.
Gatesville's first two batters both scored in the top of the first inning and the Hornets (9-2) tacked on a pair of two-out runs in the second and fourth innings for a 4-1 lead.
"We were hitting the ball well (early), I thought we were about to have a double-digit game and then things slowed down," said Gatesville coach Graig Keeton said. "I don't know what to think about that other than that's baseball. But four runs was not what we were wanting out of that after coming out and scoring two in the first."
Killeen (4-7) plated two runs in the sixth inning on an error and a fielder's choice, but Marcus Hinojos struck out looking on three pitches and Will Childers and Tyler Gordon both flew out to right field to end the threat in the seventh.
"Just defensive errors got in my head," Meyer said of the sixth. "The other team yelling at me, kind of got in my head, too. But, I got it together, took a couple of deep breaths and came back and it was alright. I got it done."
Micah Thompson was hit by a pitch to lead-off the game for the Hornets and scored on Tyler English's RBI triple. Cullen Mayhew's sacrifice ground-out plated English for a 2-0 Gatesville lead.
Tyler Jaynes led off the second with a hit and scored for the Hornets on a two-out single by Seth Martin, who was batting lead-off for Thompson who took a throwdown ball to the leg trying to steal second base in the first inning.
Daniel Vega was the Roos' first baserunner when he reached on an error in the third inning and scored on Gordon's single to cut the Hornets lead to 3-1.
Childers gave up three straight two-out singles to load the bases and then hit English to give the Hornets a 4-1 lead in the fourth. But Childers got Cullen Mayhew to fly out to right field to get out of the jam.
"Once we got our groove, we started gelling together defensively, but we just have to produce offensively-wise, to produce runs to help out the pitching," Childers said.
Childers gave up a lead-off double to Meyer in the fifth, but gave up just two singles and no runs after that, including back-to-back strikeouts in the seventh.
"We've got to work on when to put the bat on the ball," Killeen coach Mark Carranza said. "We're not just looking to make contact, we've just got to get a hit."