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Memory of murdered high school friend inspires Central Texas minor leaguer

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 12:46 PM CDT
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(KWTX) - Memories of a high school friend who was murdered in April helped inspire an aspiring professional baseball player from Riesel who hit the first homerun in the short history of his minor league team.

Landon Dieterich is a Riesel High School graduate who played baseball for four years at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton before joining the Fredericksburg Nationals, a low-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, in 2020.

The team is in its first season and Dieterich hit the team’s first homerun in a game against the Lynchburg Hillcats.

“There’s the 3-1,” an announcer said as the ball was pitched.

“That one is ripped to left field and that is gone! That’s the first homerun of the Fredericksburg Nationals era.”

It was the first home run of Dieterich’s professional career, but he had no idea until after the game it was also his team’s first.

“I was super excited,” Dieterich said.

“I got a 3-1 count, and I took a really good swing and I kind of knew it when I hit it and not many times in baseball does that get to happen.”

Dieterich says he doesn’t doubt he had some help at the plate.

In high school, he was friends with Sabion Kubitza, 22, who was shot to death early in the morning on April 17 in Mart, along with Jacob Ybarra, 20.

Authorities said the two may have been asleep when they were shot.

“I will say immediately my mind kind of went back to the people at home in Mart and Riesel and kind of the tragedy that struck there,” Dieterich said.

“We’re a close-knit group.”

“I mean both towns are rivals but we’re close and when something goes down, we kind of have each other’s backs, so a homerun like that doesn’t happen often and I know that Sabian was there definitely looking out for me and helping me out with that. There’s no way he wasn’t.”

The Fredericksburg Nationals lost the game to the Lynchburg Hillcats 8-2.

Zamar Kirven, 21, of Mart, is charged with capital murder in connection with the deadly shooting.

He remains in the McLennan County Jail.

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