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KJT roars back in last at bat to earn tie against ESB

Senior midget league games at Bluebonnet Park are never over until the last out has been made.
That’s the attitude KJT Hall (KJT) took as it trailed Ennis State Bank (ESB) by seven runs going into the final inning on Friday night. KJT (2-3-1) did indeed find a way to score each and every one of those seven runs with the pressure on and then ESB (2-3-1) was able to get off the field before a 9-9 tie became a loss.
“It was awesome to see our guys come back like that,” said KJT coach Larry Diaz.
“I kept telling them to keep their heads up and battle until it was completely over. We had a big comeback to win our first game and I reminded the players we could do that again.”
“Overall, we played pretty well,” said ESB coach Chad Hovis.
“Little things killed us in the last inning, but the guys didn’t let [KJT] go ahead. I don’t like a tie, but it’s better than a loss.”
KJT out-hit ESB 4-3 and also committed a bevy of errors, though only three came after a first inning that saw ESB roll to an 8-0 lead. ESB only committed two errors overall.
As for individuals, Kyle Casas led the ESB offense with a double, a single and an RBI. Mason Burns finished with a triple and two RBIs. On the mound, Casas (5 IP, 7 ER, 4 H, 5 W, 13 SO) put up some impressive numbers and only issued two walks through the first four innings.
As for KJT, Bo Kalinec’s grand slam in the bottom of the fifth pulled his team into the tie. Renee Benavidez also hit an inside-the-park homer and finished with two RBIs. Dylan Crow and Chris Deagan each delivered a single and an RBI.
Crow (1 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 6 W, 3 SO) had a tough time on the mound early, but Benavidez (4 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 W, 1 HBP, 7 SO) did a great job when he came on in relief.
The game looked like it might be decided very early as ESB capitalized on numerous walks and errors to rapidly build an 8-0 cushion. Mason Burns notched an RBI as he reached base on an error while Casas connected on an RBI double to center field in the first. Casas then stepped on the mound and struck out the side in the bottom of the inning.
“Kyle has been pretty dependable on the mound all season,” Hovis said.
“He’s usually good for at least eight strikeouts and Kyle is our workhorse that we depend on. He also produced at the plate tonight when he had to.”
After an ESB batter reached base on an error in the top of the second, reliever Benavidez fanned the next three batters. He then opened the bottom of the inning with an inside-the-park homer to center field. Deagan singled and eventually scored on a passed ball for an 8-2 game before Casas registered three-consecutive strikeouts.
“Renee is always one of my go-to guys,” Diaz said.
“He helped us dig out of the huge hole we were in [with his pitching]. I know Renee is always ready to go at the plate and he can give us a big hit anytime. Chris is really coming around as a player and his confidence is growing.”
Each pitcher struck out a couple of batters in the third as ESB remained up by six. Tanner Burns reached base on an error to open up the ESB fourth and he managed to score on an RBI triple from Mason Burns. Mason looked to make it a homer, but Benavidez cut the throw from left field and got the ball to catcher Josh Valdez in time for a dramatic out at home plate. Though the ESB lead was now seven, considering the final score the Valdez tag meant everything.
“Josh is a great catcher and that was a huge play for us to get the out at home; it allowed us to pull out the tie,” Diaz said.
“Mason is a quality hitter and nearly came out with a home run there,” Hovis said.
Casas finally issued a couple of walks in the KJT fourth, but he did strike out three batters for the third time in four innings. ESB came close to extending its lead in the top of the fifth as Casas singled and two runners got into scoring position. KJT had an answer, however, as first baseman Deagan and second baseman Crow fielded groundouts while Benavidez notched his seventh strikeout.
“We work hard on defense and it was good to see our guys make the plays late,” Diaz said.
After benefiting from some walks, KJT’s first hit in its last at bat ended up being a Crow infield RBI single. Benavidez (error) and Deagan (fielder’s choice) both produced late RBIs for a 9-5 game before Kalinec stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.
“Dylan kept his head in the game [after the tough pitching start] and came back to help us out at the plate,” Diaz said.
Having struck out in his first couple of at bats, Kalinec got every bit of a pitch when it really mattered as he drove the ball to deep center field and unpacked the bags to tie the score to the thrills of all KJT fans. Looking to avoid a shocking loss with just one out on the board, ESB stepped up as Casas registered his thirteenth strikeout while second baseman Payton Arciba snared a liner to end the game with time expired.
“Payton made a good, heads-up play there and we needed it,” Hovis said.
“We definitely have to sharpen up our defense because we’ve depended on it to be there for us all year. I was pleased with our offense tonight and I think we’ll put it all together.”
“Bo gave us the highlight of the game to bring us back,” Diaz said.
“He’s another go-to guy on this team and I knew he could come up big at the plate. We still need to keep improving our batting for next week.”

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Posted by on May 27 2008. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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