Slugger’s walkoff slam gets Killeen Cubs out of 1st round

Herald/Steven Doll - Grant Lewis, left, of the Brownwood Longhorns takes the throw as Ethan Gilmore of the Killeen Cubs slides safely into second base during their game Tuesday in the Texas Teen-Age Baseball Freshman Open-Base State Tournament.

By Kevin Posival

Killeen Daily Herald

Tyrell King sent a 2-2 pitch over the center field fence and turned it into a tale that will be told at Lions Club Park for ages.

If the Killeen Cubs take the long road into the Texas Teenage Freshman Open-Base State Championship game, King's walkoff grand slam that gave the Cubs a first-round, 7-5 win over the Brownwood Longhorns will be legend.

"I knew when the dude started running back and stopped," King said. "(It felt) amazing, so good that we won."

To get to the title game, the Cubs have to win their way through the losers' bracket after their second-round rally fell short in a 6-4 loss to the Cameron Red Sox. The Cubs play next at 8 this morning on Field 7.

"I told them to just keep their heads up and it just makes for a longer tournament," said Cubs coach Brian Pagel after the loss to Cameron. "They've battled adversity before and come from behind in games and battled through things. It's just going to make for a longer tournament and we're going to have to use more pitchers than what we anticipated."

The Belton Nationals rallied for their second-round 11-10 win over the Killeen Reds by scoring five runs in the bottom of the sixth and will play Cameron in a quarterfinal game this morning at 10 a.m. on Field 7.

The Reds faced the Rusk Longhorns in a losers' bracket game late Tuesday night. The evening games were pushed back due to inclement weather. The final result was not available at press time.

Brownwood deflated the Cubs' first rally with two runs in the top of the sixth inning, but walked three of the Cubs' first five batters of the sixth to load the bases for King.

"We were starting to get worried and then we just came through and pulled it through," King said. "If the people weren't on base, and I wouldn't have hit that, who knows what could've happened."

Brownwood led the Cubs 3-0 after the top of the third inning, but King's RBI fielder's choice not only put the Cubs on the board in the bottom of the inning, but sparked the Cubs' run that tied the game at 3 after the fifth. Jaquell Johnson reached in the fourth inning on a walk and scored on a wild pitch and King slapped a double in the fifth and scored on a passed ball.

"We just didn't hit the ball and then we made errors," said Brett Pagel, who scored sixth-inning runs in both games. "In the last inning, we started hitting the ball better, that's it."

The Longhorns took a 1-0 lead after the first inning when McLane Moore scored on a balk, led 2-0 after the second when Brett Sawyer's fielder's choice plated Tristan Chessee, who reached with a lead-off walk. Chessee scored again in the third on a passed ball after reaching on an error.

"We spotted them three runs in the first three innings (of the first game) that were mental mistakes and errors," Brian Pagel said. "We shouldn't have been at that point in the game but we got back to it and the same thing happened in our second game. We shouldn't have been in that situation, but there were some meltdowns and mental mistakes and, again, we tried to come back in the sixth inning, we just fell a little short."

After falling behind to Cameron early, the Cubs pulled to within 2-1 only to give up four runs in the top of the sixth inning that was marred by a downpour. The Cubs plated three in their half of the sixth, including two with two outs, but the magic was spent.

"It was a close game. We tried to pull it through, but they just had good defense," King said of the loss to Cameron. "We should've pulled it through earlier, but we kept on striking out, making errors."

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