The final score wasn’t indicative of a fairly good baseball game Thursday night in Marshall between Kilgore and Pleasant Grove.
Kilgore scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to win game one of the best-of-three-game UIL Class 4A Region II quarterfinals series, 10-1, over Pleasant Grove at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall.
The two teams will were to meet again Friday night, also at ETBU, after the print deadline for this issue of the News Herald. If a third game is necessary, it would also have been played Friday night, late – coaches for both teams agreed to adjust the series after bad weather was forecasted for today.
See how the series turned out right now online at kilgorenewsherald.com. The winner advances to the Region II semifinals next week to meet either Melissa or Sunnyvale. Melissa leads that series, 1-0; it was also scheduled to finish up on Friday night.
Kilgore is ranked number six in the Texas High School Baseball Association’s 4A coaches poll; Pleasant Grove is ranked second.
Kilgore 10, Pleasant Grove 1 (Thursday night): The most exciting inning of the game was probably the top of the sixth, although Kilgore fans probably enjoyed the bottom of that inning far more.
Kilgore’s Chase Hampton, headed to Texas Tech following his senior year, had struck out nine headed into the inning, but walked the first two PG batters of the inning. He struck out Seth Hopkins, hit Ben Harmon with a pitch to load the bases, and then struck out Marshall Cox for out two before giving way to Conner Martin.
Martin came on to the mound, and got Ryan Galvan to ground out to Cade Pippen, and Kilgore had escaped the inning allowing no runs.
But then the flood gates opened for the Diamond ‘Dogs in the bottom of the sixth.
Pippen singled to start the inning, and A.J. Smith came on as a courtesy runner. Donovan Adkins moved Smith over on a sacrifice, and then Jerrick “Deuce” Ervin walked. Martin singled, loading the bases for Gus Witt.
Witt came through with an RBI single to plate Smith for a 5-1 Kilgore lead, but the ‘Dogs were far from through. Khalon Clayton put a ball in play that led to an error, and allowed Ervin to score (6-1). Peyton Fyffe, running for Martin, scored on a groundout hit by Jayce McFarland (7-1), and then Cole Thompson doubled, scoring Witt and Kyle Wheeler (running for Clayton).
Hampton doubled to score Thompson, leading to the 10-1 score, the final. PG did little in the top of the seventh. Martin struck out the first two batters before Andrew LeGrand hit into an error. But he was thrown out at second on the next at-bat, the final one of the game.
The Hawks’ only run of the game came on a home run by Keaton Russo in the game’s second at-bat.
But Kilgore tied it in the bottom of the first. Witt tripled, then scored on a single by Clayton, who finished with 4 RBI.
Hampton got three strikeouts in PG’s half of the second inning, and then the Bulldogs took the lead for good in the bottom of that inning. Pippen singled, but was thrown out when Adkins hit into a fielder’s choice. However, Adkins went to third on a hit by Ervin, and then scored on another fielder’s choice hit by Martin. That gave Kilgore the 2-1 advantage.
Witt doubled to move Martin up to third, and then both scored on a single by Clayton, putting Kilgore up 4-1, which was what the score remained until that big sixth inning.
As mentioned, Clayton went 2-for-4 with 4 RBI. Witt hit a single, a double and a triple, and had an RBI. Ervin was 2-for-3; Pippen was 2-for-4; Thompson had the hit and the 2 RBI; and Martin and Hampton each had a hit and an RBI.
Hampton threw 5 2/3 innings and allowed the one run on the home run, three hits total, struck out nine and walked four. Martin went 1 1/3, allowing no runs, no hits, no walks and struck out two.
The win makes Kilgore 27-5 overall this season -- the Bulldogs, coached by Eugene Lafitte, have now tied the record for single-season wins at the school. It’s the third straight year Kilgore has won more than 25 games, and another win would allow KHS to set a new single-season wins record -- and to advance to the regional semifinals next week.
Last year, Kilgore got within one series from the 4A state tournament, but lost to eventual champion Argyle, who is currently ranked number one in the state a year later.