Douglass Takes Game 3 vs. Harleton 10-8 to Win Class A Region III Baseball Semifinal Series
KILGORE — Kolten Rhoades took a baseball to the neck in the fifth inning and it looked like his night be over.
Instead, Douglass’ utility man moved from catcher to third base, came up with a big hit, and closed out Harleton.
Rhoades had a critical two-run seventh-inning triple before pitching the final two outs for a save in Douglass’ 10-8 Game 3 victory against Harleton in a Class A Region III semifinal series Friday night at Kilgore’s Driller Park.
Douglass (20-4), which erased a 5-3 Game 3 deficit after losing earlier Friday 2-1 in Game 2, advances to play Carlisle or West Sabine in the Region III championship next week. Carlisle leads its series with West Sabine 1-0. Game 2 is 4 p.m. Saturday in Lufkin.
“Our kids never stop. They fight to the end. I think it’s a testament to our overall (athletic) program at Douglass,” said coach Eugene Lafitte. “Our kids are well-rounded in playoff situations.”
A curveball in the dirt bounced up and hit Rhoades in the neck with two Harleton runners on base and no outs in the bottom of the fifth. Rhoades, who isn’t normally Douglass’ catcher but was forced to play when the Indians’ starter got hurt last week, collapsed to the ground and laid on his back for several minutes before getting up and walking off the injury.
Lafitte said the decision to remain in the game was left up to Rhoades and his father after consulting with a trainer. That turned out to be pivotal for the Tribe.
Douglass broke open a 6-6 tie with four runs in the top of the seventh. Two errors — including one on an one-out bouncer up the middle that was a perfect double-play ball that would’ve ended the threat and left the game tied — led to one run, while Bryce Westbrook’s RBI sacrifice fly scored the second for an 8-6 lead. Rhoades then ripped a two-out, two-run triple for a 10-6 advantage.
Two walks, a single, and two errors helped Harleton cut the lead to 10-8 in the bottom of the seventh, but Rhoades, who was 2-for-5 from the plate, recorded the final two outs to get the save.
“He just needed some time to recupe from it because he got a little dizzy. The decision was No. 1 the safety of the kid, and we took him out from behind the plate and put him over at third, and that’s usually where he is,” Lafitte said. “He recovered and thankfully so. He went to third and made two outs in a row there and made the big hit that relaly was the game-winning hit. Then comes in a shuts them down and strikes out the last guy. That’s the type of kid he is. He’s just a bulldog. I told him I’d take nine of him.”
Douglass led 3-1 before Harleton scored four in the bottom of the third on six consecutive singles. Jack Underwood had the third single and drove in a run before Matt Burke singled in two during the next at-bat. Taylor Henson finished the string of singles with an RBI for a 5-3 lead. All six singles came with two outs.
Douglass tied the game with thanks to Taylor Schroeder’s fifth-inning two-run double, but Harleton edged ahead once more, 6-5, on Henson’s two-out, bloop RBI single that drove in Clay Hooten, who had doubled the previous at-bat. Douglass tied the game 6-6 in the top of the sixth on Bryce Westbrook’s RBI double.
Douglass’ Matthew Wallace was 3-for-4 with two doubles and three runs scored, while Schroeder and Bryce Westbrook — who pitched 6 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking three to get the win — each had two hits. Chase Dyson had two walks, two sacrifice bunts, one RBI, and one run.
Hooten led Harleton with a 3-for-4 evening. Steven Crump — Harleton’s Game 2 winner on the mound — joined Underwood and Henson with two hits apiece. Underwood and Henson each knocked in two.
Harleton’s Brooks Lloyd pitched four innings and yielded five runs on six hits with two strikeouts and three walks. Crump, who pitched a complete game five-hitter earlier Friday, replaced Lloyd in the fifth and pitched the final three frames, receiving the loss.
Harleton committed four errors to Douglass’ two. Each team had 12 hits.
Harleton 2, Douglass 1
Harleton got a strong pitching performance from Steven Crump to even the series with a 2-1 victory against Douglass in Friday’s Game 2.
Crump held Douglass to one earned run on five hits with six strikeouts and no walks. Crump strike out the side in the bottom of the seventh, ending the game with back-to-back called third strikes.
Douglass’ Matthew Wallace and Grant Holland also pitched well. Wallace yielded one earned run on three hit with two strikeouts and one walk in three innings before Holland pitched the final four frames. The freshman left-hander limited Harleton to one unearned run on two hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
Harleton gained a third-inning lead thanks to Brooks Lloyd’s leadoff single, which preceded two wild pitches to advance him to third. Lloyd scored during the next at-bat when Ty Howeth hit an RBI sacrifice fly to right field.
Harleton added a fourth-inning run on one hit and two errors. Matt Burke started the inning with a single before an E-6 advance him to third and an E-1 plated him for a 2-0 advantage.
Douglass got a two-out RBI double from Reed Westbrook in the bottom of the fifth to cut Harleton’s lead in half, but the Indians couldn’t tie the game. Crump retired seven of the Tribe’s final eight batters to get the win and even the series.
Douglass’ Kolten Rhoades had the game’s only two-hit performance. Harleton’s Clay Hooten had the Wildcats’ lone extra-base hit with a double.