DALLAS – Chase Hampton drove in four runs and Gus Witt pitched six strong innings as Kilgore defeated Benbrook 13-4 to sweep its Region II Finals Series and punch its ticket to the UIL Class 4A State Baseball Tournament.
This marks the fourth time in school history for the Bulldogs to qualify for state, and is the first time since 1972.
Kilgore (32-7) swept this series at the Horner Ballpark on the Dallas Baptist University campus, outscoring Benbrook 21-4. The Bulldogs won the weather-delayed opener earlier Thursday, 8-0.
The Bobcats complete their season with a 29-7-2 mark. The ’Dogs lost to Argyle in this round a year ago.
The Bulldogs struck early and often against the Bobcats, scoring six runs in the first and adding six more for good measure in the second.
Connor Martin was the leading hitter for Kilgore, going 3-for-5 with two RBI. Donovan Adkins also had two RBI, but it was Hampton who really did the damage against Benbrook’s left-handed starting pitcher Xander Carrasco. The Texas Tech commit, drove in four runs (2-for-4) and scored two others.
Benbrook answered Kilgore’s six-run first inning with three runs of its own, getting a two-run single by Payton Poole and an RBI double by Davis Bennett.
Gabe Washington led the Bobcats offensively with three hits (3-for-4) for the contest and an RBI, coming in the second inning.
Three of Kilgore’s runs in the second inning were unearned.
Nine different Bulldogs combined for 14 hits. Three of those went for extra bases.
Joining Hampton, Martin and Adkins with RBI for Kilgore were Witt, Khalon Clayton and Jayce McFarland.
After allowing four runs on six hits in the first two innings, Witt settled in, allowing only four more hits through six innings. He struck out five and walked two.
Brayden Johnson came on to start the seventh. He allowed one hit and struck out one. Kilgore closed it by getting a game-ending double play.
In the continuation of the first game, which started in Tyler on Wednesday evening, Hampton continued where he left off, retiring three in a row before giving way to reliever Johnson, who came on to get the final three outs in the contest.
Leading 2-0, the Bulldogs erupted for six insurance runs in the sixth inning. A one-out walk to Witt and back-to-back doubles by Clayton and McFarland set things in motion, stretching the Bulldogs advantage to 4-0.
Before the inning was concluded, Cade Pippen, Adkins and Ervin added RBI, and Pippen crossed on an infield error.
Hampton (12-2) scattered two hits through six innings, retiring the final eight batters he faced.
Seven different Bulldogs had hits. Clayton led the way with two. Ervin drove in two runs.
Bennet, Gabe Washington and Payton Poole provided Benbrook’s three hits.