[By Josh Richert, Special to ETSN.fm]

MOUNT PLEASANT — Pleasant Grove jumped on Melissa early and, despite the Cardinals putting the potential tying run on base in the sixth, the Hawks held on for their sixth consecutive Class 3A Region II championship with an 8-4 Game 3 win Saturday at Northeast Texas Community College's Eagle Field.

Pleasant Grove (27-13), the defending state champion, advances to the Class 3A state semifinals Wednesday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin. Melissa's first season in 3A ends with 30-10-1 record.

In addition to six consecutive state tournament berths, Pleasant Grove has won two of the last three 3A state titles.

Marshall McPherson, the second relief pitcher for Pleasant Grove, got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth inning with a strikeout and a pickoff at second base to end the Cardinals' rally.

The Hawks scored five runs in the second off Melissa starter Camden Duzenack, who was touched up for five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. Duzenack (2-2) walked four, fanned two and gave up two hits.

Pleasant Grove sophomore Jarod Bayless (6-4) picked up the pitching win, working 5 1/3 innings for the Hawks. The lanky right-hander struck out six, walked none and allowed four runs — three earned — on five hits.

Dylan Silvey walked the only two batters he faced, and McPherson came in to get out of the sixth-inning mess without any further damage. Dalton Willige recorded three consecutive outs in the seventh to nail down the win.

Bayless had an RBI single in the second inning. Teammate Casey Rayburn had a two-run single just inside the bag at third before a double play ended the Hawks' early outburst.

Duzenack led off the sixth with a solo home run to left field — his second of the series — and Cade Cruce drilled a double off the wall. C.J. Tyler singled to left to make it 7-3 and ended Bayless' day on the hill.

After three consecutive walks, McPherson got his strikeout and caught Landon Wilson, the Game 2 winner, leaning at second base for the third out.