CORSICANA -- Kilgore showed Thursday it could compete with the No. 1 team in the state.

But with the momentum shifting drastically to its side as the game neared the end, the Bulldogs fell just short, 4-3, in Game 1 of the 4A Region II regional final series with Argyle.

Kilgore (27-5) entered the fifth inning trailing 3-0, and when Argyle got the second out of the inning, allowing Elijah Martin on first via fielder's choice, a victory was seeming less and less likely.

But Trea Clayton's single to left field immediately following sparked something in the Bulldogs.

Kilgore followed Clayton's hit with three more singles. Ren Reynolds drove in Martin to make it 3-1, and Javan Smitherman later hit a single to left field to bring in Clayton and Reynolds. Kilgore recorded five hits in the inning to seize momentum. The Bulldogs were as close as any team this season to shattering Argyle's perfect record.

But the Eagles (34-0) wouldn't relinquish any more. Chad Ricker, who entered in relief of Bryson Hudgens in the fifth, struck out five of the final six batters. The sixth grounded out.

Dillon Carter hit to deep left field to record a double in the seventh. Hayden Clearman later recorded the RBI to give Argyle the lead back for good.

Coach Eugene Lafitte said his team proved it is good enough to challenge Argyle. However, to win, it will need to begin the game stronger.

"I told these guys, 'Whoever wins this series is going win the state championship,'" he said. "We had some adversity put on us. We came back out and responded. That's what we've got to do. We've got to come tomorrow and respond from the first inning. I don't think (Argyle) has been pressured that way all year. Especially from a 4A school. But we've got to do a better job of focusing at the beginning and carrying it all the way through."

Javan Smitherman pitched five innings for the Bulldogs before he reached 107 pitches and was taken out. He gave up three runs -- including a home run in the third to Brendon Dixon -- six hits and struck out seven.

Kilgore's defense limited Argyle one run in each of its scoring innings.

"They did a great job," Lafitte said. "(Smitherman) hit his spots. The home run was an inside-out swing. He hit his spot the ball just carried. But that's what good teams do."

Argyle won the hitting battle 9-7. Although most Bulldogs struggled to reach the bases outside of the fifth inning, Gus Witt was 3-for-3, recording a single in each of his at-bats.

The Bulldogs will need to win Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to stay alive. Chase Hampton will start at pitcher for the Bulldogs. Lafitte said he doesn't plan to change anything strategy-wise. His team proved Wednesday night it has what it takes.

"We do what we do and we don't adapt because of who we're playing," he said. "We're gonna come out. Hopefully we're focused more instead of waiting until the fifth inning."

Argyle 4, Kilgore 3

Class 4A Region II Regional Final Series
Game 1, Corsicana

Argyle          011    100    1    —    4    9    0
Kilgore       000    030    0    —    3    7    0

Pitchers and catchers

  • Argyle: Bryson Hudgens (4.2), Chad Ricker (2.1), and Austin King.
  • Kilgore: Javan Smitherman (5.0), Connor Martin (2.0) and Khalon Clayton.

WP — Hudgens.
LP — Smitherman.

Doubles

  • Argyle: Bryson Hudgens, Hayden Clearman.

Home Runs

  • Argyle: Brendon Dixon.