Another one bites the dust

Kilgore High School’s Diamond ‘Dogs (above) posed briefly for this photo after beating Pleasant Grove in the third game of a UIL Class 4A third-round series on Friday. KHS faces Melissa at Mike Carter Field in Tyler Thursday. (Photo from KHS DIAMOND DOGS FACEBOOK)

Kilgore, your Bulldogs are the UIL Class 4A Region II quarterfinal champions.

But it wasn’t easy, and there’s more work ahead.

The Diamond ‘Dogs had a tussle with Pleasant Grove – PG dealt the Bulldogs their first loss in over a month on Friday night in game two – but the Bulldogs came out on top, edging the Hawks, 4-2, in the third game of a best-of-three series played in its entirety at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall.

Kilgore is now 28-6 on the season – that’s a new single-season record for wins, again – and will take the rest of the weekend off, plus a few days, before facing Melissa in the Region II semifinals that will begin Thursday. The series is a best-of-three and is slated to be played at Mike Carter Field in Tyler.

Game one will be Thursday night at 5:30. Game two will be played 30 minutes after the end of game one.

If a game three is needed, it will be Saturday at 3 p.m.

Kilgore is 6-1 in the postseason this year. Melissa’s Cardinals went to a third game against Sunnyvale in round three, but finished them off to advance. The Cardinals are 7-2 this postseason, with playoff wins over North Dallas, Kennedale and Sunnyvale.

The series with Pleasant Grove matched the second-ranked Hawks against sixth-ranked Kilgore, perhaps the marquee series of the Texas postseason this weekend.

Both teams had their moment in the sun. Kilgore ran PG out of the stadium, 10-1, in Thursday night’s game one. And then Pleasant Grove returned the favor, beating Kilgore, 10-0, in game two. That was the Bulldogs’ first defeat since falling to Spring Hill in district play back on April 2. Kilgore had won 14 straight games.

But it all came down to game three, a game originally planned for Saturday, but the expected, forecasted inclement weather forced KHS coach Eugene Lafitte and his PG counterpart to 

move the third game up to Friday night.

Kilgore got the game-tying run in the bottom of the first. Gus Witt walked, advanced to second on a single by Khalon Clayton, and then scored on a single by Jayce McFarland to tie things up, 1-all.

In the bottom of the third, Kilgore took the lead, on a two-out rally. It was Witt again, drawing the two out walk, and then went all the way to third base on a single by Clayton, who was a thorn in PG’s side the entire series.

McFarland put the ball in play in the next at-bat, and reached on an error. Witt scored, and A.J. Smith, running for Clayton, scored, as well, giving the ‘Dogs a 3-1 lead.

As they did in game one, the Hawks put a scare into Kilgore and the KHS fans in the top of the sixth. Hopkins drew a lead-off walk, then after an out was recorded, M. Cox reached on an error. Hopkins got to second safely.

Galvan reached safely and loaded the bases, and D. Singleton hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Hopkins after tagging up. That got the Hawks within one.

That was as close as they’d get. Witt, who had came on to pitch earlier in the game, got P. Twisdale to ground out to Cade Pippen at second base.

The ‘Dogs added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. McFarland singled, then went to second on a bunt by Cole Thompson.

Thompson was out, but did the necessary damage: McFarland scored on the next at-bat, a single by Chase Hampton to give Kilgore a 4-2 lead.

PG had one final at-bat, in the top of the seventh, but didn’t do much with it. Cobb got a one-out double, but Russo lined out to Kilgore’s Donovan Adkins in left field, and then Hopkins popped up to Jerrick “Deuce” Ervin in center, which ended the game.

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