Things are heating up now.
The Kilgore Bulldogs advanced to the third round of the University Interscholastic League’s Class 4A playoffs, dealing Pittsburg a 4-2 loss on Saturday afternoon in Whitehouse, completing the sweep.
That means coach Eugene Lafitte’s Diamond ‘Dogs (23-4 on the season) are on to the UIL Region II semifinals, and they’ll meet Center. Center swept Paris this weekend. Center has been one of Kilgore’s district rivals in football, but is in a separate baseball district -- the two haven’t met this season.
They will Thursday night, at 6 p.m., here at Driller Park for game one. Game two will be at Center, also at 6 p.m., on Friday night.
The site and time for the third game, if it’s needed, is to be determined.
Kilgore, ranked ninth in the state in the latest Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association poll on Monday, swept Henderson in the first round of the playoffs last week, then swept Pittsburg. The Bulldogs have won 10 straight.
The Bulldogs, the District 15-4A champions, set a single-season record for wins last year (26-6-2) and have only lost four times in the last two seasons.
Lafitte is in his first season as head coach.
Chase Hampton got the win on the mound for Kilgore on Saturday, and again, Brayden Johnson did a nice job doing mop-up work against just one batter. Hampton went 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits, walked five and struck out eight.
Johnson came on for a third of an inning with two outs. He struck out Derrick McCellon to end the game.
Khalon Clayton and Ren Reynolds each went 2-for-3 for the Bulldogs. Clayton had 2 RBI, Reynolds one. Elijah Williams was the only other Bulldog that had a hit in the game.
Kilgore went up 4-0, scoring two runs in each of the first two innings; Pittsburg scored a run in the fourth, then again in the fifth. The Pirates were charged with three errors in the contest.
Clayton’s first hit was a 2-RBI double that scored Reynolds and Gus Witt. Williams led off Kilgore’s second inning with a hit, and then after some nice work moving his way around the base path, scored on a single by Reynolds.
Reynolds also got the signal to steal second, advanced to third base on a wild pitch by Center’s Brett McGee, and then scored on a grounder put in play by Javan Smitherman, who got the RBI for the 4-0 lead.
McGee took the loss for Center, pitching the complete game. He allowed four runs, two of them earned, on five hits and struck out one.