Diboll Reaps Benefits of Tough Schedule Entering Class 3A Region III Final vs. Silsbee
District 20-3A proved to be one of the state's toughest this baseball season. Diboll remains standing as the league's final playoff representative.
Diboll (20-11) plays Silsbee this weekend in a series to decide the Class 3A Region III championship. The Lumberjacks finished third in 20-3A, but have hit their stride at the perfect time, rolling into the fifth round with a 7-1 playoff record.
A tough non-district schedule featured Silsbee -- the Tigers beat Diboll 6-4 in a Feb. 18 season-opener -- Spring Hill, Mount Pleasant, College Station, Rusk, Port Neches-Groves, and Pine Tree, all of which reached the playoffs.
Then there was Diboll's district, which featured champion Lufkin Hudson and second-place Carthage. Hudson swept Diboll in the regular season before the Lumberjacks avenged the losses with a 3-0 third-round victory in a one-game playoff. Diboll split the district series with Carthage, which lost 4-1 to Silsbee last week in a one-game regional semifinal.
"I would have to say that this district was tough week in and week out," said Diboll coach Edd Trotter. "Everybody had to bring their 'A' game on Tuesday and Friday nights. ... These two districts (20-3A and Silsbee's 21-3A) are two of the toughest districts in the state, so to make it out of either one prepares you mentally."
The tough start to the season has shown in the Lumberjacks' record. After starting 10-10, Diboll has won 10 of its last 11 contests.
Winning close games has also become a trademark of Diboll's playoff run. After a 16-2 Game 2 second-round win against Caldwell, the Lumberjacks have won four consecutive close games. Diboll beat Caldwell 7-6 in Game 3 before eliminating Hudson 3-0. Then the Lumberjacks swept Huffman Hargrave 5-4 and 6-3.
Nevertheless, Trotter and company won't be distracted by the success they have already had.
We have to continue to play the way we have and just play our style of baseball. We can't get caught up in the hype," Trotter said. "We had a goal at the first of the year, just like everyone else, and that was to still be playing in June. There are a lot of distractions going on this time of year with graduation and summer plans, so we as baseball coaches have to deal with situations that other coaches don’t have to deal with, and keeping these guys focused is a challenge in itself. I have to say that God has blessed us and we wouldn’t be here with out him. Who ever makes it out will represent Region III well."
Silsbee has had a somewhat similar playoff journey.
The Tigers have played four consecutive close games, winning three of them, including a high-pressure one-game playoff last week against Carthage. Right-hander Tyler Powell pitched that game, holding the Bulldogs to five hits in a complete-game performance that fueled Silsbee's 4-1 victory.
"Silsbee is very well coached. Coach (Michael) Nelson does a great job down there and they will be ready to play," Trotter said. "Their pitching staff is excellent, and they can hit. Everybody that has made it this far can play so it comes down to who gets the breaks."
Class 3A Region III
Diboll Lumberjacks (20-11)
Silsbee Tigers (30-7)
- Game 1: 7 p.m. Thursday (May 30), University of Houston
- Game 2: 3 p.m. Saturday (June 1), Rice University's Reckling Park, Houston
- Game 3: follows Game 2 if necessary
How they got here
- Bi-district: def. Palestine 2-0 in series (6-3, 9-1)
- Area: def. Caldwell 2-1 in series (L 5-2, W 16-2, W 7-6)
- Regional quarterfinal: def. Lufkin Hudson 3-0 in one-game playoff
- Regional semifinal: def. Huffman Hargrave 2-0 in series (5-4, 6-3)
- Bi-district: bye (District 21-3A champion)
- Area: def. Columbia 2-0 in series (3-1, 12-5)
- Regional quarterfinal: def. Orangefield 2-1 in series (W 5-1, L 5-3, W 6-2)
- Regional semifinal: def. Carthage 4-1 in one-game playoff
Did you know?
- Silsbee beat Diboll 6-4 in a Feb. 18 season-opener.
- Diboll was 10-10 after a 5-4 loss to Lufkin Hudson on April 12. Since then, the Lumberjacks have gone 10-1 with their only loss coming in Game 1 of their area-round series victory vs. Cadlwell.
- After a 6-3 start, Silsbee has won 24 of its last 28 games.
- Silsbee's Tyler Powell tossed a complete-game five-hitter with four strikeouts and three walks in last weekend's 4-1 regional semifinal win against Carthage.
- Diboll's 5-4 Game 1 win against Huffman Hargrave last weekend came in eight innings. Pitcher Sergio Castillo had 12 strikeouts in a complete-game effort.
- Diboll's Alex Aguilar hit an eight-inning solo home run to provide the difference in that 5-4 Game 1 win vs. Huffman Hargrave.
- Both teams have played Carthage and Lufkin Hudson. Diboll split the district series with Carthage, but lost twice to Hudson before beating the Hornets in a one-game regional quarterfinal. Silsbee lost twice to Hudson in the regular season before last week's one-game regional semifinal victory against Carthage.
- Winner advances to UIL Class 3A state tournament at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin.