By Clay Fowler
Killeen Daily Herald
On top of a month of rust, the Killeen Rangers had to shake off a three-run deficit before even picking up a bat.
The Rangers awoke from their interlude with an eight-run first inning on their way to topping the Early Yankees 11-8 and advancing to the winners bracket semifinal of the TTAB Senior Midget State Tournament at Lions Club Park.
In earning an automatic bid to the state tournament by winning their league, the Rangers were granted four weeks off. Not required to participate in the district tournament, their downtime was extended one more day when they drew a first-round bye on Monday.
Tuesday's offensive explosion was more than Rangers head coach Harry Randall was expecting after the layoff.
"For as long as these kids have been off they did a great job," he said. "We've just been practicing for a month and haven't seen any live action. They started off a little sluggish but kept their head in the game and put up eight runs in that first inning."
Rangers Zack McClary and Jordan Sanchez each provided two-run hits in the first inning and shortstop Tyler Bark was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Early pulled within one after a four-run third, but Bark's two-run triple doubled the Killeen lead to four in the fifth inning.
Kyle Randall pitched a complete game for the Rangers, allowing six earned runs and striking out eight.
n Corsicana Cubs 5, Salado RedHawks 2 Jeremy Fowler's two-run double fueled a three-run second inning, giving Corsicana a lead they'd never lose in advancing to face the Killeen Rangers.
Salado's Brandon Womac singled home Bryce Martin in the first and scored following a leadoff triple in the third, accounting for each of the RedHawks' runs.
Brett Anderson and Holdon Grounds each drew walks to begin the bottom of the third eventually scoring to bolster the Corsicana lead.
n Whitehouse Rangers 5, Redwater Giants 0 Michael Nuon pitched a no-hitter, striking out 10 of the 18 batters he faced in shutting out Redwater.
Nuon singled to lead off a five-run fifth that was culminated by center fielder Tre Allen's 3-run home run. Jordan Hilburn provided an RBI single in the inning.
n Winnsboro Red Sox 8, West Pizza House 1 Sheyan Thompson was 2-for-2 with two triples, two RBIs and three runs scored in advancing Winnsboro to a meeting with Whitehouse in the winners bracket semifinals.
The Red Sox opened with a four-run first, shortstop Landon Bright providing a two-run double. After a leadoff triple in the third Thompson was driven in by Greyson Amerson's single.
Thompson's two-run triple in the fourth was followed by Luke Tabbetts RBI ground out to cap the scoring.