The Kilgore Bulldogs took a big step Friday night in advancing to the third round of the UIL Class 4A playoffs.
Facing Pittsburg in the first game of a best-of-three series in Whitehouse, the Bulldogs managed 18 hits and took a 13-4 game one victory.
Kilgore (22-4) meets Pittsburg again today in Whitehouse at 1 p.m. If Kilgore wins that game, the series is over; if Pittsburg wins, a third game will follow.
Friday's win was the Bulldogs' eighth straight, dating back to April 14.
Things looked good for Pittsburg early, on a 2-RBI single by Chris Garcia in the third inning, breaking a scoreless tie.
But Kilgore didn't trail long, plating five runs in their half of the fifth. Pittsburg, trailing 5-2 after that big Kilgore fifth, cut it as close as 5-4, but Kilgore had a huge seventh, scoring eight more runs to blow the game open.
Ren Reynolds and Conner Martin each went 3-for-5; Martin had 3 RBI. Javan Smitherman, Khalon Clayton, Trea Clayton and Gus Witt each went 2-for-4; and Elijah Williams and Jayce McFarland also each had two hits.
Smitherman got the complete-game win on the mound, striking out nine and giving up five hits. He walked just one batter. The senior, a Dallas Baptist signee, did give the crowd a scare when he looked to be injured on a play at first base, but recovered and finished the contest.
The Kilgore-Pittsburg winner will face the winner of Center and Paris next weekend.