ROUND TWO STARTS FRIDAY

 Kilgore HIgh School’s baseball Bulldogs (above) face Wills Point in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs on Friday, a 4:30 p.m. first-pitch at Emory-Rains. Kilgore, ranked seventh in the state, has won 78 games, three straight district championships, and has eliminated seven schools from the playoffs in the last three seasons, counting 2019. (Photo from KHS DIAMOND DOGS FACEBOOK)

The first round of the UIL Class 4A baseball playoffs is over, and with a sigh of relief, Kilgore High School’s Diamond ‘Dogs are on to round two.

Kilgore, which has had one of the best high school baseball programs in the state the last three seasons, will begin the second, or area, round of the 4A postseason on Friday afternoon against Wills Point, at Emory Rains – the same place 

the Bulldogs wound up finishing their first-round series against Liberty-Eylau, thanks to the bad weather. KHS is ranked seventh.

Game one of the Kilgore-WP best-of-three series will begin Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Rains. Game two will be Saturday, also at Rains, a 1 p.m. start, and game three, if they need it to decide the series, will begin 30 minutes after the end of game two.

Kilgore is 24-5 on the season and just finished off a first-round series against Liberty-Eylau. The Leopards were a scrappy bunch -- Kilgore had to utilize seventh-inning comebacks in both games, 3-2 in the first game, and 5-4 in the second.

Wills Point swept Caddo Mills in the first round. Wills Point’s Tigers are coached by Todd Staley and are 16-7 on the season. They shut out Caddo, 6-0, in the first game, and won the second, 5-4.

Kilgore’s Diamond ‘Dogs, coached by Eugene Lafitte, have won at least 24 games in each of the last three seasons (in 2017 under then-coach Charles Foshee).

Back in 2017, the ‘Dogs beat Center in the first round, Mabank in round two, and lost to Gilmer in the third round. Last year, they took another step in Lafitte’s first season in charge. They beat longtime nearby rival Henderson in round one, took out Pittsburg in round two, dealt Center another playoff loss in round three, and then beat Crandall in round four. It took top-ranked Argyle to knock off Kilgore the round before the state tournament to end Kilgore’s 2018 season.

So the Bulldogs have gone 7-2 in their last nine playoff series, counting the recently-completed one against Liberty-Eylau.

That one was drama-filled. Kilgore needed a home run from Gus Witt in the sixth inning and a pair of hits by Donovan Adkins and Jerrick “Deuce” Ervin to win game one, and then, after having to alter the series due to rain and storms, Kilgore looked like a loser of game two – until another seventh-inning rally sealed the deal, and KHS sent L-E packing.

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