By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
TEMPLE — Emery Atkisson saw a pitch to drive.
Harker Heights head baseball coach Glenn Cunningham saw the fortuitous big hit his club has lacked in big games recently.
But Temple’s hot streak burned up any spark Atkisson’s sixth-inning triple could have afforded the Knights.
Atkisson’s hit plated Harker Heights’ only run in the game and the Wildcats beat the Knights 4-1 on Tuesday at Temple for their sixth straight win.
“Right now we’re struggling to score runs,” Cunningham said. “Pretty soon, there will come a game and we’ll just bust out of it. The bats will start rolling again, but in baseball, sometimes you run into these valleys and in a short season, this valley is coming at a bad time.”
Temple (14-12, 7-3 12-5A) lost to Heights 13-5 in the teams’ first meeting, but has moved up to a three-way tie for second in the 12-5A standings thanks to its current win streak and now holds a two-game lead over the Knights with four games left.
“We lost to them the first time and we needed to win this one in case we came down to a head-to-head, tied at the end,” Temple coach Craig Martin said. “We’ve still got a good part of our schedule left and so do they, and we didn’t want to give ourselves a chance to end up staying at home because of a tiebreak.”
The Wildcats scored one run in the bottom of the first inning on a bases-loaded catcher’s interference call and went up 2-0 on an RBI single in the third.
Atkisson’s triple plated Stefan Flores, who reached on a fielder’s choice, in the top of the sixth inning for Heights (11-8-1, 5-5).
“It was a good start to an inning,” Atkisson said. “Almost every inning we had someone on, but we couldn’t get that big hit, get a real big inning. But, you’ve got to tip your hat to the other guy on the mound over there because he’s having a phenomenal season.”
Hunter Mayo grounded out and Caleb Dean flew out to right field to end the inning, leaving Atkisson, who represented the tying run, stranded at third base.
“We’re in every game, our kids are playing hard, they’re doing a great job. We just need a big hit here and there and Emory got it,” Cunningham said. “I thought, ‘This is what we’ve been looking for.’ And Hunter comes up and next pitch, he hits the ball hard. If that’s to the right, there’s no telling how far that momentum goes. But, the momentum stopped pretty quick right there.”
The Wildcats then loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the sixth and scored two runs before a freak double-play.
Temple used a lead-off double, a Heights fielding error and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases and took a 3-1 lead on Joe Joe Garcia’s RBI single. Brandon Gamboa then followed with a high fly ball that Heights’ second baseman Dean dropped just outside of the infield dirt. Dean, though, made the heads-up play to throw to Atkisson at short stop. Atkisson tagged second base to get Garcia out coming from first and then tagged out Jordan Garcia, who was caught between second and third for the final out.