Lufkin Erupts Late in Game 2 to Eliminate Hallsville + Advance to Regional Semis
TYLER -- When Lufkin sophomore Max Quick connected with a sinking line drive to center field in the third inning with his team trailing by five runs, no one could've anticipated its significance.
As it turned out, that hit went for a three-run, inside-the-park home run that ignited a comeback win in Thursday's series opener with Hallsville.
The Panthers finished off a sweep with six late-inning runs, earning a 9-3 win in Game 2 over Hallsville, in their Class 5A Region II quarterfinal playoff series Friday at Mike Carter Field.
Lufkin (25-8) jumped on Hallsville (24-10) with two runs in the first, but fell behind after Hallsville's three-run second inning. The Panthers weren't fazed, putting together consecutive three-spots in the sixth and seventh inning.
"I think it was huge because we came out with that mindset today, 'let's get up on them,'" Lufkin coach John Cobb said of the Game 1 comeback. "We got down, but we didn't panic, just like las night. I was proud of the way they fought through it and overcame it."
Lufkin will face either Rockwall-Heath or Mesquite Poteet back at Mike Carter Field next week in a best-of-three series. Game 1 will be Thursday, while Game 2 and 3, if necessary, are scheduled for Saturday. Game times have yet to be determined.
Quick wasn't the only sophomore to have a major impact in the series for Lufkin. Jonathan Dewberry had two hits and scored a run in Game 2 following a 4-for-4 performance in the opener. And Tanner Green, another 10th-grader, earned the victory in Game 1 with 5 2/3 innings scoreless innings of relief.
"We've got four sophomores who are pretty special," Cobb said. "It's just phenomenal to come into a series like this in the playoffs, having never been on the varsity, and all of a sudden you're up there producing. It's just an amazing testament to their skill and how hard they work."
Lufkin exacted a measure of revenge on Hallsville, which eliminated the Panthers with a playoff sweep one year ago.
"They were pretty fired up on Saturday when we found out we were playing," Cobb said. "I was fired up, honestly, to tell you the truth. They're a completely different ball club than they were last year, and we're a completely different ball club than we were last year. It's a testament to their work ethic and working their butts off and refusing to lose."
Manuel Garcia Jr. broke a 3-3 tie with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, and Lufkin pushed the lead to 6-3 when Connor Hanks' deep fly ball was misplayed by the Hallsville right fielder, which allowed two runs to score with two outs.
Lufkin played add-on in the seventh with three more runs. Garcia was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Rafael Pena drove in two with a single to left.
Panthers pitcher Logan Lair went the distance for the win, allowing three runs on seven hits. He struck out three and hit a batter.
Blake Lazarine drove in a run with a single and Haylen Green followed with an RBI double to give Lufkin a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but a two-run double from Hallsville's Zach Cochran and an RBI single by Ryan Cole put the Bobcats up 3-2 after two innings.
Lazarine, who finished 3-for-4 on the evening, tied the game in the third with a run-scoring single to right.
Lufkin 9, Hallsville 3
Class 5A Region II Regional Quarterfinals -- Game 2
At Mike Carter Field, Tyler
Lufkin 201 003 3 -- 9 10 0
Hallsville 030 000 0 -- 3 7 1
Pitchers and catchers
- Lufkin: Logan Lair and Connor Hanks
- Hallsville: Justin Staten, Caden Thomson (6), Lane Kennedy (7) and Colton Oberthier
WP -- Lair
LP -- Staten
- Lufkin: Haylen Green
- Hallsville: Zach Cochran