Shortened tournament or not, the Kilgore High School baseball Bulldogs went undefeated in their own annual Oil Belt Classic tournament over the weekend, and considering some of the competition, that’s a fairly impressive feat.
Kilgore began the tournament with a 13-strikeout performance from Dallas Baptist signee Javan Smitherman on Friday, a 2-1 win over Hardin Jefferson. They dealt previously-undefeated New Diana a 5-1 loss on Saturday, and finished the tournament Saturday evening with a win over state-ranked Central Heights that saw Elijah Williams get the game-winning single to score Khalon Clayton.
The Bulldogs, now 3-2 on the season (they had lost a pair of close games before the tournament to Liberty-Eylau and Whitehouse), are in a tournament at Edgewood this weekend, and that starts Thursday. Kilgore gets the nightcap on the first day, taking on Caddo Mills at 6 p.m. tomorrow night.
On Friday, Kilgore plays host-team Edgewood at 3:30 p.m., and on Saturday, the Diamond ‘Dogs play twice: a 10:30 a.m. start against Elkhart, and a 3:30 p.m. start against Farmersville.
Kilgore 2, Hardin Jefferson 1 (Friday): It was a good defensive game that the crowd saw that opened the tournament early Friday afternoon.
Smitherman pitched all six innings for the Bulldogs, finishing with the 13 K’s, giving up just five hits and three walks. He was pitching with the lead after the bottom of the second inning – that’s when Gus Witt scored on an errant throw, as the ball got away from H-J’s third baseman and into left field.
H-J’s only run of the day came in the next inning. Gavin Kash got a lead-off single and moved around the base path on a wild pitch and a passed ball. He scored on a single by Logan McLeod to tie the game.
But Kilgore answered in its half of the third. Smitherman reached on an error, advanced to second on a wild pitch, then moved to third on another wild pitch, this one by reliever Bryce Jewell that also advanced Jayce McFarland, who had walked. Smitherman scored, though, on yet another wild pitch, this one to Gus Witt. Kilgore led 2-1, and clamped down on the defense for the win.
Kilgore 5, New Diana 1 (Saturday): The Eagles took a lead early; Jacob Burton scored on an RBI double by Cole Willeford for the 1-0 advantage in the first inning.
Kilgore punched back in the bottom half of the inning. Ren Reynolds, who was the starting pitcher in the game, had a single and would eventually tie things on a wild pitch. Reynolds got off to a tough start, but settled down quickly and finished with five strikeouts in a complete-game win. He gave up just two hits, and both of them were in the first inning.
The Bulldogs blew the tied-game open in the fourth inning. Clayton singled to left, and then McFarland, running for Clayton, moved to second. Williams had an RBI single and then Cole Thompson followed with a fielder’s choice. Trea Clayton walked.
Conner Martin walked, too, a bases-loaded walk which brought home the second run of the inning. Smitherman was hit by a pitch and that forced home another. And then Reynolds scored on a wild pitch to Witt.
Kilgore 4, Central Heights 3 (Saturday): Reporting this out of sequence, simply because of the drama of the win, and the competition.
Kilgore broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth inning. Clayton, who was hit by a pitch, went to second on a wild pitch and then advanced to third on a single by Biggs. Williams came on as a pinch-hitter and singled to right field, which scored Clayton and gave the ‘Dogs the lead, which they kept.