The Belton Tiger Baseball team traveled to Richardson on Thursday for the first two games of the Jay Higgins Lake Highlands Classic at Berkner High School.
The Tigers started the day against Lakeview Centennial
Belton grabbed an early lead and held it until the sixth inning, when the Patriots tied the ballgame on a bases-clearing double. The Tigers escaped the inning, and the game, with a 7-7 tie.
The offense started early for Belton, as Scott Gurnett reached on an error, Ben Jones knocked a double, Caleb Alexander singled home Gurnett, and Cooper Babcock doubled home Jones and Alexander to make the score 3-0 in the first inning off of LC starting pitcher Aaron Garza.
After Jones robbed Amir Mason with a diving stop on a line shot destined for left left, the Patriots answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame on a two-run single off starter Brady Shadrick. Mason Gerrard made a wicked stop on a liner by Diego Garcia to get the Tigers out of the inning.
Belton gained back one of the runs when Babcock drove in Gurnett on a sacrifice fly in the top of the second inning.
Dylan Hill belted a two-run double to tie the game at 4-4 with two outs in the second inning.
The Tigers regained their two run lead when Gurnett doubled home T.J. Johnson and Jakob Norwood to give Belton a 6-4 advantage.
Big Red flashed more solid defense, as Jones robbed Mason again at shortstop on a diving catch. Jones then flipped a throw to Gerrard at third base to double off courtesy runner Angel Agreda.
Although the Tigers were unable to cash in on a first-and-second situation with nobody out in the fourth inning, Belton scored a much-needed run in the top of the sixth. Alexander doubled to start the inning off of reliever Jorge Barrera. Babcock sacrifice bunted Alexander to third base. Keagan Wolfe’s sacrifice fly scored Alexander to give the Tigers a 7-4 lead.
With one out in the seventh inning, Shadrick gave up back-to-back walks. Belton Head Coach Mark Krueger brought Wolfe in from center field to try and close the game. Mason walked to load the bases, and Garza flew out for the second out. On a 1-0 pitch, Hill drilled a pitch to left field. The ball bounced off of the left field glove and to the wall. Three runs scored to tie the game at 7-7. Lucas Quantrell was hit by a pitch to give LC runners at second and third. Barrera grounded to Gurnett at second base. Gurnett stepped on second base to end the game, as the Tigers settled for a tie.
Alexander led the Tigers with three hits, Babcock had three RBI, Gurnett and Jones each had two hits in Belton’s 11-hit attack. They stranded eight runners on base.
Shadrick pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowed six runs (four earned) on two hits, walked seven and struck out one. Wolfe pitched 2/3 inning of relief, allowed one run on one hit, walked a batter and hit a batter.
After the Tigers rested for 30 minutes, they took on the Berkner Rams.
Chase King scattered five hits and Belton supported their starting pitch a 14-hit attack as they run-ruled Berkner in six innings, 10-0.
Belton jumped out to a one-run lead in the first inning. Gurnett walked, stole second base, and moved up to third base on a wild pitch. With one out, Alexander grounded into a fielder’s choice, where Rams’ catcher Alexis Munoz tagged Gurnett out at the plate. Babcock followed with a double to drive home Alexander to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
While the Tigers’ offense reloaded, King kept Berkner off-balance with a diet of first-strike curve balls, fastballs and mixed-in changeups.
Belton scored a run in the second inning. Garrett singled to left field and Isaiah Hubal bobbled the ball in left field to score Rowdy Soliz, which gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers stranded a pair of runners in the third inning. However, they came up with two runs in the fourth. Joaquin Gonzalez walked. Courtesy runner Will Wallace sprinted all the way to third base when Soliz sacrifice bunted him to second base and he discovered no one covering the bad at third. Wallace scored on Garrett’s single. Alexander’s fielder’s choice scored Garrett which boosted the Tigers’ lead to 4-0.
The only time in the ballgame that King allowed more than one runner in an inning was in the bottom of the fifth, when Connor Radabaugh singled, was forced out on a second base on Jacob Gonzales’ ground out, and Cole Hill singled. King induced a fly out from Hubal to Gurnett to end the inning.
Belton batted around in the sixth inning. Gurnett singled and was sacrifice bunted to second base by Jones. Alexander was hit by a pitch, Babcock walked, and Wolfe’s sacrifice fly scored Gurnet. Shadrick walked and Gonzalez drove in two runs on a single off relief pitcher Bryce Drayton. Soliz singled home courtesy runner Wallace, Garrett singled, pinch-hitter Canyon Tubbs had an RBI single, and Shin Blanton’s RBI walk forced home Soliz to put the Tigers on top 10-0.
King retired the side in the sixth inning, including striking out Marco Vargas and Alexis Munoz to end the game. King pitched six innings for the win, allowed five hits, walked none, and struck out six Rams.
Garrett and Gonzalez each had two RBI. Garrett had three hits, while Babcock, Gurnett and Gonzalez each garnered two hits in Belton’s 15 hit attack. The Tigers left 11 runners on base.
Radabaugh had two of Berkner’s six hits, as the Rams left five men on base.
The Tigers had 26 hits in 12 innings on Thursday, to go with 17 runs.