By James Harper
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS — It was the same thing, different day for Blayten Magana and Harker Heights.
Eighteen days ago the Belton senior ace pitched a complete-game, one-hit shutout against the Knights. On Thursday night, he was just as good.
Magana kept Heights’ lineup off-balance with a mix of fastballs, change ups and curve balls, allowing five hits while striking out seven in a 3-0 victory.
“I try to (pitch shutouts) every game, but (it helped) seeing them (three weeks ago). We know what they can do.” Magana said.
The Tigers (12-9, 6-3 12-5A) started the scoring in the first inning as Magana singled in Max Hogan for a 1-0 lead.
While Belton’s may have only needed one run three weeks ago, it came through with some more support this time around as Shane Ward’s RBI single in the second inning scored sophomore Walker Winders to it 2-0.
“I hope for one run and to shut them out,” Magana said. “But that doesn’t always happen, so I have to depend on my defense to back me up.”
Hunter Mayo was the hard-luck loser for the Knights, also pitching a complete game and with just a single earned run allowed.
Pitching wasn’t the problem for Heights, Magana was.
“I can’t take anything away from that kid, he knows how to pitch.” Knights coach Glenn Cunningham said.
The Knights’ (12-7-1, 5-4) only opportunity for some offense came in the third inning.
After Robby Sluss struck out, the next two Heights batters reached on singles, but a flyout to center and a popup to short ended the threat, and with it the Knights’ hopes to get out from under Magana’s 90-plus mph fastball.
“Our kids were pressing a bit against him because we knew we needed a big hit,” Cunningham said. “But rather than sit back and wait on (Magana’s fastball), we tried to kill it.”
Belton scored the game’s final run on Austin Bishoff’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.
Despite the extra insurance, Magana had the mind-set that this was a must-win game.
“They all are from here on out, and I believe in this team and I know we can win out.” Magana said.
Sophomore Caleb Dean went 2-for-3 for the Knights, who travel to Temple on Tuesday for another pivotal district tilt.