Seven-Run Inning + Sixth Consecutive Shutout Carry Carthage To Game 1 Rout Of West Orange-Stark
KILGORE -- The Carthage baseball program has long prided itself on pitching and defense. The formula worked once more Thursday night for the Bulldogs, while wreaking havoc for the opposition.
Blaine Tomlin pitched a four-hitter for Carthage's sixth consecutive postseason shutout, the Bulldogs took advantage of shaky West Orange-Stark defense for seven runs in the fifth inning, and Carthage rolled to a 9-0 win in Game 1 of their Class 4A regional semifinal playoff series at Driller Park.
Carthage (20-10), which extended its streak of 20-win seasons to 13, will go for the sweep Saturday when the series resumes with Game 2 from McNeese State's Cowboy Diamond in Lake Charles, La. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. Should a third game be necessary, it would directly follow.
Tomlin (10-2) allowed just four West Orange-Stark (22-9) singles, needing only 75 pitches to complete seven innings. He stuck out just one, but induced a couple of double plays and stranded three runners in scoring position.
"The curve ball was there tonight, and it really helped me keep them (off-balance)," Tomlin said. "And the run support, it helped out a lot."
Tomlin had to wait five innings for that, as Carthage erupted for seven unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth to break open a scoreless tie. The inning featured only three Bulldogs hits, as West Orange-Stark's defense committed five errors leading to all seven runs.
"This was not a 9-0 game … it's a 0-0 game into the fifth," said Carthage coach Jim Goldman. "They kinda made a few mistakes, but they're a quality, quality team. It's going to be tough to go down there and win another one, but we fully expect to."
Carthage sent 11 men to bat in the fifth. Anthony Chhor and Micah Templeton had RBI singles, Seth Ballenger produced a sacrifice fly RBI, Jarod Blissett and Cagan Baldree reached on errors, while Hunter Townsend and Troy Davis drew walks.
The Bulldogs had just two hits before its fifth-inning outburst.
"Every at-bat's a new at-bat, every pitch is a new pitch," Goldman said. "If it's a bad at-bat, you've just got to flush it out. Even if you have a bad swing and it's strike one, you've still got two more. This is a great bunch, they do that."
Townsend singled, walked three times and scored a run, Ballenger had two RBIs, Templeton was 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, while K.J. Harkrider went 2-for-3 with a double, and scored a run.
Carthage added two more runs in the sixth on a Ballenger fielder's choice RBI, and a West Orange-Stark passed ball -- its second of the game.
Meanwhile, Tomlin retired the final eight batters he faced.
"Blaine was just fantastic," Goldman said. "Everything's low, he's just a No. 1, a true No. 1. And we're very fortunate to have him. We don't get a whole lot of strikeouts, but our defense … we mishandled the first ball of the game, but that was it. We pride ourselves on pitching and defense. That's the recipe, and we need to keep it up."
West Orange-Stark starting pitcher Grant Anderson took the loss, yielding five unearned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks in 4 2/3 innings.
Aidan Anderson was responsible for two of the Mustangs' four hits on the night.
Baseball Class 4A Region II Semifinals
Game 1 -- Driller Park, Kilgore
Carthage 9, West Orange-Stark 0
West Orange-Stark 000 000 0 -- 0 4 5
Carthage 000 072 x -- 9 7 1
Pitchers and catchers
- West Orange-Stark: Grant Anderson, Payton Robertson (5) and Jack Dallas, Anderson (5)
- Carthage: Blaine Tomlin and Micah Templeton
- WP -- Tomlin
- LP -- Anderson
- Carthage: K.J. Harkrider