KILGORE -- Scott Mitchell experienced a homecoming and a career milestone Thursday night at Driller Park.

Hallsville's veteran baseball coach, a Kilgore graduate, led the undefeated Bobcats to a 3-1 victory against defending Class 3A state champion Pleasant Grove on the first night of the Oil Belt Classic, earning Mitchell his 300th career victory.

Hallsville coach Scott Mitchell applauds a hit during Thursday's 3-1 win against Pleasant Grove in Kilgore. (Christopher Vinn,

"It's special, especially here. The place I grew up," said Mitchell, who got his first head-coaching win at the 1991 Oil Belt Classic in a 3-2 Kilgore victory over Jacksonville. "To come home and do it at this park where I played for four years, it was special."

Mitchell, in his 15th season as Hallsville's head coach, has the Bobcats 6-0 entering Friday's 10 a.m. contest against Queen City. Hallsville plays Carthage (6-1) at 12:15 p.m. Hallsville's 9-1 win in this past Saturday's game at the Rose City Classic is Carthage's only loss of the season.

Hallsville right-handed sophomore Connor Reich scattered six hits and yielded a lone run, which came from Pleasant Grove senior Cason Cordray in the sixth inning. Hallsville had already built a 3-0 lead by that time, thanks in part to Texas A&M signee Ronnie Gideon's solo blast to left field in the top half of the inning.

Reich struck out the side in the seventh inning and fanned five in the final two frames. He finished with 10 strikeouts and one walk.

"He wants the ball. He has that mentality that when he steps out on the mound, he's gonna compete and he's gonna give everything he has," Mitchell said. "Playing a team like Pleasant Grove that's defending state champions at the 3A level and been to the state tournament five years in a row, it was a quality win for our program."

Pleasant Grove right-handed junior Marshall McPherson held Hallsville to three earned runs on three hits with six strikeouts and three walks. Hallsville senior Andy Guinea's two-run first-inning single did the most damage of the night. The hit scored Gideon and Logan Bailey, who had Hallsville's only other hit. Gideon's homer was the only hit McPherson allowed in his final 6 1/3 innings.

Pleasant Grove senior Casey Rayburn had the game's only multi-hit night with a pair of singles.

Mitchell credited consistently good pitching for the Bobcats' 6-0 start.

"Our pitching has been really good. We've been able to throw strikes and play defense behind them," Mitchell said. "Tonight we saw a good kid (McPherson) who kept us off balance. It was cold, and that's gonna affect hitters. We're young, too. That's another thing that I have to remember as a head coach. My expectations for these kids are pretty high and their expectations for themselves are really high, but I've still gotta remember I've got a lot of young kids that this is their first year on varsity. But they're playing well together, and they like it each other, and that's a big deal. That means a lot."

Pleasant Grove plays Nacogdoches at 2:30 p.m. Friday


Oil Belt Classic
Baseball Tournament

Hallsville 3, Pleasant Grove 1

Driller Park, Kilgore

Hallsville -- 200 001 0 -- 3 3 1
Pleasant Grove -- 000 001 0 -- 1 6 0

H -- Connor Reich and Nathan Bailey
PG -- Marshall McPherson and Brooks Langdon

WP -- Reich
LP -- Langdon

HR -- Ronnie Gideon (solo, 6th)