Steven Doll Belton junior Brooks Mraz makes a throw to first base during the second inning agianst Harker Heights on Friday at Belton High School.
BELTON — It was simply unacceptable.
After getting upset by Copperas Cove on Tuesday, Belton coach Eddie Cornblum wanted a better performance from his team.
And while it wasn’t perfect, at least he got a much better performance at the plate and a win.
The Tigers held off a late rally by Harker Heights to stop its two-game losing streak with an 18-8 run-rule win in six innings Friday at Belton.
“I have been thinking about this game since we got on the bus (Tuesday) …this was a big game,” Cornblum said. “It could swing us in a bad spot or a pretty good spot.
“The kids responded. We had some soul-searching after the (Cove) game. … I don’t know if this was the prettiest game in the world, but we needed the win. We needed the win bad.”
Harker Heights outhit the Tigers 13-9, but control issues on the mound and in the field hurt the Knights.
Heights pitchers hit six batters and walked four. Their fielders didn’t give them much help, committing six errors.
“If you can’t field ground balls and catch, then it is going to be a long night,” said Knights coach Glenn Cunningham. “We just did not do anything defensively to help our cause.
“It was a very sloppy game on our part.”
It started to fall apart for Heights in the second. After Reyes Jimenez reached on an error, Irvin Santamaria walked two straight batters and hit another to plate a Belton run.
Tyler Vail then opened up the game with a hot shot line drive down the third-base line that couldn’t be handled and drove in two more Tiger runs.
It got worse in the third, as the Tigers strung together four straight singles with two outs, including an RBI single by Shane Ward and an RBI infield single by Colbi Fuentes. In the fourth, Brooks Mraz seemingly put the finishing touches on the win with a dead shot over the right-center field wall. The home run gave Belton a 9-2 lead.
Heights didn’t go away as quickly as Mraz’s home run.
The Knights started a two-out rally in the fifth, when Jacob Spivey hit a double that clanged off the outfield wall and Emery Atkisson and Santamaria had back-to-back singles to drive in Spivey.
Rodney Leasch had the fourth straight hit to drive in Atkisson and Stefan Flores hit a double into the left-center field gap to plate two more runs for the Knights.
Kyle Havens finished off the two-out rally with an RBI single that cut the Belton lead to 9-7.
“Offensively, I thought we did a great job against quality pitching,” Cunningham said. “You score eight runs against a guy like that? There are not too many times you are going to get that chance.
“I was pleased offensively, but defense is what keeps you in games.”
Max Hogan gave Belton some breathing room with a two-RBI double in the bottom of the inning and Belton broke it back open in the sixth as more control issues plagued Heights. Bryce Davis walked two and hit two more, and Vail had a two-RBI single as the Tigers pushed the lead to 17-8.
Heights’ sixth error ended that game, as Havens, the Knights catcher, sailed a throw down the first base line trying to pick off a runner.
“We came out and responded well,” Cornblum said. “We came out and scored in every inning and we even responded to (Heights’) five-run inning and kept scoring.”