NEW CHAPEL HILL -- Javan Smitherman was livid.

He took a nasty hit from a pitch in the seventh inning. He threw his bat, shook his head and needed a minute or so to calm down before trotting to first.

Perhaps still searing, Smitherman stole second, then third to put himself in scoring position the Khalon Clayton stepped up to bat. Clayton grounded out, but Smitherman raced home, reaching the plate just before the ball.

It was the only run of the seventh inning, but it turned out to be crucial. Moments later, Smitherman would find himself on the mound trying to close the game for Kilgore. As Markus Meza connected with a pitch, Smitherman reached out to stop the ball and threw to first baseman Harlee Biggs to seal the game, 5-3, against Chapel Hill on Friday.

"(Smitherman) is an athlete," coach Eugene Lafitte said. "There's a reason (Dallas Baptist) wants him. That's our Bulldog. We feel like if he's on the mound, we can win the ball game."

Smitherman pitched the full game for Kilgore (9-3, 1-0 District 15-4A), striking out nine and allowing just two hits.

The game remained close early, but Kilgore's defense began to take over near the end of the second inning. That began a streak of what would become 12 consecutive outs for Kilgore, before Smitherman allowed Parker Hintz on base via a walk in the sixth.

That began a trend in the opposite direction. After another walk, a passed ball and an error, Hintz found himself rounding home plate to make the score 4-3. With Colten Beaudet on third, Kilgore found itself on the verge of losing its lead.

Instead, it came together to get the final two outs it needed.

Smitherman regained his composure to strike out the next batter, and a groundout from shortstop Ren Reynolds to Biggs immediately followed.

"We had a passed ball and he was dead if we just tossed the ball to him," Lafitte said. "That allowed them to score that third run. We had a couple critical errors early that if we don't make, I think we pull away. It was a 5-3 ball game and I think our errors kept it close for them."

Chapel Hill will look to rebound from the loss when it takes on Gilmer at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Gilmer. Kilgore will next face Bullard at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Bullard.

"They've got a clubhouse full of lefties," Latiffe said. "I don;t know who we're going to see on the mound. They've played some good ball games this year. They've played up in some classifications. They're a good club. I think pitching and defense and then if we score some runs, it'll take care of itself."

Kilgore 5, Chapel Hill 3

District 15-4A
At New Chapel Hill

Kilgore               021    100     1    --      5      4      4
Chapel Hill        110     001    0    --     3    2     3

Pitchers and catchers

  • Kilgore: Javan Smitherman and Jaxon Heckle
  • Chapel Hill: Parker Hintz (6.2), James Adams (0.1) and Khalon Clayton

WP -- Smitherman
LP -- Hintz

Doubles

  • Kilgore: Khalon Clayton