ARLINGTON — Arlington Martins dominating starting pitcher, Turner Larkins, just didnt have his typical dominating stuff Saturday.
With the chance to eliminate Keller in the second game of a best-of-three Class 5A bi-district baseball series, Larkins struggled mightily to control his fastball, forcing him to throw 133 pitches in the complete-game effort.
However, his competitive drive and nasty curveball were more than enough to down Keller 5-3 at Martins home field.
In the beginning, [fastball control] was all right and then I started losing it and then I got it back a little bit when my velocity started going down a little bit, Larkins said. I had to make it with some other pitches.
The first inning was a breeze for the junior, who mowed down two Keller hitters with a looping, 12-6 curveball. The next six innings would be a struggle for Larkins (9-0).
On his side were Martins hot bats, giving him a four-run cushion after the first inning.
Right fielder Anthony Lyons ripped a two-run double as the fourth batter of the first inning, followed by a two-run homer by third baseman and Friday night starter Daniel Lingua that just cleared the right-field fence.
I thought it was off the wall off the bat, but with this wind carrying out it was just enough, Lingua said.
In the following innings, Keller (19-12) got to Larkins but struggled to follow through scoring the runners, leaving nine stranded in the game. However, Larkins and his breaking ball locked down when in a jam, striking out 11 Keller batters.
He had to compete every inning but the first one. He had a good first inning and then after that they had base runners every inning after that, Martin coach Curt Culbertson said. Without his best stuff, I thought he competed real well.
Keller scored runs in the third, fifth and seventh.
Martin (28-6-1) picked up the two-game sweep Saturday, but the outcome wasnt completely telling of the nature of the series.
It was intense for a first round, Larkins said. Theyre probably one of the better four seeds in the tournament.
In this area, if youre in the playoffs, youre a good team, Culbertson said. Yes, there was a lot of strategy, but its nothing we hadnt anticipated. We knew that we werent going to walk into this thing and it was going to be easy.
Martin advances to face Lubbock Coronado in the second round in a best-of-three, but details had yet to be determined Saturday, Culbertson said. He expects the teams will match up in the Abilene area.
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