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Silsbee Eliminates Carthage 4-1 in Class 3A Region III Baseball Semifinal

LUFKIN — One rough inning was all it took to knock Carthage out of the 2013 playoffs.

Silsbee took advantage of two walks to start the bottom of the third and a throwing error to plate one of those base runners in a three-run frame that fueled a 4-1 victory against Carthage in Thursday night’s Class 3A Region III one-game baseball semifinal at Angelina College.

Silsbee (30-7), which lost 50-21 to Carthage in the 3A Region III football championship this past fall, advances to play Diboll or Huffman Hargrave in next week’s regional final. Carthage, which reached its first regional semifinal since the Bulldogs’ won their third state championship in program history in 2009, finished the season 29-8.

Thursday’s loss marked the second consecutive season that a one-game playoff loss has eliminated Carthage. Silsbee won the flip and chose the one-game format instead of Carthage’s preference of a series. Last year, rain forced Carthage to play a one-game playoff in the second round against Mabank, which came from behind to beat the Bulldogs 6-4.

Silsbee right-handed starting pitcher Tyler Powell held Carthage to five hits — one in five different innings — while striking out four and walking three. He and leadoff hitter Montana Garcia each went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Brody Colle had Carthage’s only mult-hit game with a second-inning single and fourth-inning double. Right-handed starting pitcher JayDon Day allowed three earned runs on six hits with five strikeouts. The only walks he issued were the two third-inning walks.

With the game tied 0-0, Silsbee’s Colin Shellhammer and Chris Nesbitt drew leadoff walks in the bottom of the third against Day. Shellhammer stole second, then scored on a pickoff throw miscommunication that resulted in the ball flying into shallow center field.

Silsbee leadoff hitter Montana Garcia followed that with an RBI single to plate Nesbitt for a 2-0 lead with no outs. Two batters later, 3-hole hitter Jordan Gore hit a deep sacrifice fly to right field to score Garcia for a 3-0 advantage.

Carthage center fielder Samuel Chhor, who stayed in the game after a seemingly gruesome first-inning finger injury, made back-to-back big plays in the bottom of the fifth to keep the Dawgs within three runs. Chhor threw out Shellhammer at the plate as he tried to score on a Garcia single, then tracked down a fly ball off Colby LeBlanc’s bat sprinting to his right in the left-center alley.

Carthage tried to rally in the final two innings, but fell short.

Blake Bogenschutz started Carthage’s fifth with a single, but Jared Twomey then blooped a popup toward second. Bogenschutz arrived safely at second as the second baseman threw the ball to first in an attempt to double up Bogenschutz. After the umpires met to discuss the play, they ruled the Tigers’ second baseman indeed made the catch and did not trap the ball, resulting in the double play standing.

Kolby Blissett started the sixth by reaching on an error and scored on Jack Morris’ two-out RBI double to right-center field that cut Silsbee’s lead to 3-1. The momentum was short-lived as Powell induced the next batter into a groundout to shortstop to kill the Dawgs’ chances of narrowing the gap more.

Powell provided himself an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. His two-out RBI single ricocheted off the glove of a diving Blissett at shortstop and into shallow left field to score Adam Valencia for a 4-1 lead. The RBI infield single was almost negated by what would have been a great play by Blissett if he had somehow come up with the ball.

Trailing by three runs, Day started the top of the seventh with a walk, but a flyout set up a game-ending double play on a diving catch in right-center field that allowed Silsbee to double up Carthage at first base.

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