MARSHALL, Texas – Pleasant Grove didn’t go quietly into the night Friday against Kilgore at East Texas Baptist University’s Woods Field.
After losing Thursday’s Region II-4A quarterfinal series opener to Kilgore, 10-1, the Hawks blitzed the Bulldogs in the second game Friday, 10-0. However, give Kilgore credit for regrouping and winning a hard-fought third game, 4-2.
The Bulldogs’ following were on the edge of their seats in the seventh inning of the decisive third game. Andrew LeGrand led off with a long drive to right-center that was chased down for the first out. Jackson Cobb followed with a double off the left field fence. Then Keaton Russo lined a shot down the left field line, which the leftfielder hauled in with a back-handed catch. Winning pitcher Gus Witt then retired Seth Hopkins on a fly to center to end the game.
Hawks’ coach emotional after loss to Kilgore
Pleasant Grove coach Riley Fincher was understandably emotional after the season-ending loss.
“It was a great series, a great atmosphere,” said Fincher. “You’ve got to give Kilgore credit. I love our team, and I love our community and program. We hurt for these guys, and the ones that won’t get to play again. We hurt for the guys who won’t get to be around each other again. I hurt for my 10-year-old son, who loves this team more than anybody. We are truly a family that cares about each other.
“These guys are going to be great fathers and husbands. We told them after the game that the sun was definitely going to come up tomorrow.”
The Hawks hammered three hits in the first inning to load the bases. A 6-2-5 doubleplay got Kilgore out of the jam with only one run scoring. The Bulldogs tied the score at 1-1 in their half of the first on two-out hits by Khalon Clayton and Jake McFarland.
Kilgore (27-6) captured the lead for good in the third with two unearned runs off losing pitcher Nick Voyles.
Senior southpaw Ryan Galvan needed only 69 pitches in the six-inning opener Friday. He allowed two infield hits in the third, retiring 12 of the next 13 batters.
Russo hits second homer of series against Kilgore
Pleasant Grove (26-6) finished with eight hits, including Keaton Russo’s second home run of the series.
It was scoreless going to the bottom of the fourth when Hopkins and Ben Harmon hit back-to-back triples to put the Hawks on the scoreboard. Marshall Cox followed with a run-scoring single, and Galvan reached on the first of Kilgore’s five errors. One out later Parker Twisdale singled home two runs to make it 4-0.
Cobb hit his 10th triple of the season in the sixth and score ahead of Russo’s roundtripper. Hopkins walked, eventually scoring on a wild pitch to make it 7-0. A walk and three Bulldog errors made it 10-0 in the sixth.
“We hit the ball hard and put it in play,” said Fincher. “I was extremely proud of our guys. Ryan (Galvan) has grown up from a little-bitty freshman who wasn’t sure he was going to play the game of baseball. He’s a kid that has fought and competed his bottom off. I can’t say enough about him.”
Galvan started the third game, but had to leave after retiring the first two batters in the bottom of the third because of his pitch-count.