Kilgore Rallies For Walk-Off Win in Extras Over Chapel Hill in Key District 16-3A Battle
KILGORE — Seven innings were not enough to decide Friday night’s pivotal District 16-3A baseball clash between Chapel Hill and Kilgore, and both teams provided plenty of fireworks in extras.
Michael Hampton scored with two outs in the bottom of the eighth on a Chapel Hill fielding error, capping a furious three-run rally for a 6-5 win at Driller Park. The win pulled Kilgore (7-7-1, 3-1) even in the loss column with Gilmer and Spring Hill atop the district, while Chapel Hill (14-6, 3-2) dropped to fourth place.
With a runner at third and two outs, Kilgore’s Patrick Villanueva rolled to a grounder to the Chapel Hill second baseman, who bobbled it momentarily before trying to get the inning-ending out at first. Villanueva was ruled safe on a close play, and Hampton crossed home for the walk-off win.
“We could’ve got down and could’ve quit,” said Kilgore first-year coach Charles Foshee, whose team fell behind by allowing two runs in the top of the inning. “We had one out (to lead off), but our kids they found a way to win and that’s always exciting. It was a crazy game for sure; I don’t how many of those you can take, but we’ve had our share this year.”
Chapel Hill lefty Pat Day, a Houston signee who went the distance on the mound, got Austin Bullard to ground out to begin the eighth. But an error and back-to-back walks to Hunter McMorries and Hampton loaded the bases for Brady Daughdrill, whose sacrifice fly RBI cut the deficit to a run and moved Daughdrill to third base.
Day got ahead of Villanueva in the count, but a wild pitch that sailed over the head of Chapel Hill catcher Hudson Mahaffey allowed Daughdrill to score the game-tying run and advanced Hampton 90 feet from home.
“He had an 0-2 count on the kid and wanted to end the game on a strikeout; he was just a little amped,” said Chapel Hill second-year coach Ryan Cook of Day. “Every kid throws a wild pitch in a game, but unfortunately his had to be in the eighth. He did a phenomenal job tonight. He battled through some adversity; we’ve just got to make plays behind him consistently. I’m just frustrated because these kids work so hard, these kids compete and they’ve made such big strides to this year.”
The two Chapel Hill errors in the eighth added up to four for the game. Day allowed just two earned runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and five walks, throwing an unofficial 136 pitches on the night.
“Kilgore’s a good team,” Day said. “They hit the ball and not a lot of teams hit me like that, honestly. We handled them very well until the last inning, but you can’t really dwell on that because that’s baseball. Pitching eight innings was tough, but I’m the type of guy who tries to battle through everything. It just wasn’t my night tonight; the night belonged to Kilgore.”
Day was also complimentary of his own supporting cast in defeat.
“I want to give credit to Braden Nelson (2-for-4); he was stroking the ball tonight,” he said. “And I want to give a big hand to my catcher behind the plate Hudson Mahaffey. Without him I wouldn’t be doing half the things I’m doing, because that kid’s a wall back there. That kid’s a warrior.”
Chapel Hill, which fought back twice to even the game, finally took its first lead with two runs in the top of the eighth. Day doubled to left with one out and moved to third on a single by Peyton Richardson, who soon after moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. That set the stage for Phillip Day’s go-ahead, two-run single to center field.
“They’re a resilient group of kids; they fight,” Cook said. “And that’s what we preach: that CH on your chest means something. Compete’s a word I use all the time with them. The kids have worked hard for two years now and they’ve bought into our program and bought into what I’ve told them. You can see it kinda taking off now.”
Overshadowed by the eventful eighth inning was the performance of Kilgore’s freshman starting pitcher Hampton, who allowed just one earned run on five hits with 11 strikeouts and only one walk in seven innings.
“Michael has done a great job all year long,” Foshee said. “I think this was his second game to pitch; he normally plays third base for me. I knew he’d do a great job and that’s why I put him in there, and I didn’t have any second thoughts about it. I knew he’d battle, he’d compete. He wants the ball, he’s a competitor and he’s only going to keep getting better. He’s 14 years old, so the sky’s the limit for him and it’s going to be fun being able to watch him grow.”
Brantley’s RBI double down the first-base line gave Kilgore a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and the game stayed that way until the top of the fourth when Chapel Hill’s Zack Walters singled in Nelson, who tripled to lead off the inning.
Kilgore regained the lead — 3-1 — in the bottom half of the fourth on Villanueva’s two-out, two-strike, two-run single up the middle. But Chapel Hill once again found the equalizer by taking advantage of two of Kilgore’s four errors on the night to score twice in the sixth, tying the game at 3-3.
“We let them off the hook there at the end,” Foshee said. “The game probably should’ve been over, but we made two errors back-to-back and allowed two runs to score. But we’ve kinda battled that all year long. I’m not real sure how many one-run games we’ve had this year, but it’s gotta be around eight or nine. And finally, a couple weeks ago, we started learning how to finish the one-run games and be on the winning side of those.”
Chapel Hill returns to action Tuesday at home against Gladewater, while Kilgore plays at Henderson on Tuesday.
Kilgore 6, Chapel Hill 5 (8 innings)
District 16-3A Baseball
At Driller Park, Kilgore
Chapel Hill 000 102 02 — 5 8 4
Kilgore 100 200 03 — 6 6 4
Pitchers and catchers
- Chapel Hill: Pat Day and Hudson Mahaffey.
- Kilgore: Michael Hampton, Seth Whisenhunt (8) and Austin Bullard.
WP — Whisenhunt.
LP — Day.
- Chapel Hill: Day.
- Kilgore: Jake Brantley.
- Chapel Hill: Braden Nelson.