The Kilgore Bulldogs came up just short of a trip to the UIL State Baseball Tournament a year ago, but this time around coach Eugene Lafitte and the Diamond Dogs punched their ticket to the big dance in Austin for the first time since 1972.

Kilgore (32-7) will meet Sweeny (30-9) at 1 p.m. today, while defending champion Argyle (38-1) takes on La vernia (28-11) in the other semifinal at 4 p.m. at Disch Falk Field. The winners will meet for the championship at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday back at Disch Falk Field.

KILGOREMascot: Bulldogs

Coach: Eugene Lafitte (Assistants are Joey Pippen, Josh Riley and Jason Gunn)

How they got here: Def. Liberty-Eylau (3-2 and 5-4); Def. Wills Point (8-1 and 8-7); Def. Pleasant Grove (10-1, 0-10, 4-2); Def. Melissa (0-2, 14-3, 4-3); Def. Benbrook (8-0, 13-4)

Roster: Seniors Deuce Ervin (.337, 17 RBI, 50 runs, 16 SB) … Khalon Clayton (.400, 41 RBI, 27 runs) … Chris LaRoux … Cole Thompson (.340, 29 RBI, 29 runs) … Payton Fyffe … Connor Martin (.325, 28 RBI, 29 runs; 5-0, 3.90 ERA, 33 strikeouts, 15 BB, 28.2 IP) … Gus Witt (.486, 10 doubles, 4 triples, 3 HR, 46 RBI, 49 runs, 15 SB; 8-2, 1.83 ERA, 40 strikeouts,16 BB, 53.1 IP) … Juniors Chase Hampton (.284, 32 RBI, 13 runs; 12-2, 1.29 ERA, 154 strikeouts, 30 BB, 81 IP) … Jayce McFarland (.308, 30 RBI, 31 runs, 12 SB) … Karson Gee … Sam Witt … Brayden Johnson (5-1, 3.30 ERA, 56 strikeouts, 35 BB, 55 IP) … Spencer Thompson … Sophomores Cade Pippen (.250, 9 RBI, 19 runs) … Kyle Wheeler … A.J. Smith … Dalton McElyea … Donovan Adkins (.250, 11 RBI, 23 runs)

Did you know: The Bulldogs advanced to the regional finals a year ago before being swept by eventual state champion Argyle … Lafitte has a career record of 335-96 heading into the state tournament, including a 59-13 record in two seasons at Kilgore … Twelve of Lafitte’s 14 teams in his coaching career have advanced to the playoffs, and he led Douglass to a 33-1 record and a Class A state championship back in 2014 with a 10-0 win over Flatonia … Witt (Weatherford), Clayton (Northeast Texas) and Ervin (Eastfield) have signed national letters of intent to play baseball next year at the college level, and Hampton has given a verbal pledge to Texas Tech… Kilgore advanced to the state tournament as a 3A team in 1960, 1971 and 1972, losing in the semifinals in 1960 and 1971 and falling to Taylor (4-0) in the title game in 1972 … Kilgore closed out the regular season winning nine in a row and 16 of 17, the lone loss being an 11-4 setback to Spring Hill

SWEENY

Mascot: Bulldogs

Coach: Mark Durham

How they got here: Def. Houston Scarborough (17-0), Def. Bridge City (2-1, 8-1); Def. West Columbia (16-0, 10-0)l Def. Carthage (9-5, 0-1, 6-5); Def. Robinson (2-0, 0-1, 11-1)

Roster: Collin Coker … Jacob Gutierrez … Quinton Martin (.291, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 28 runs) … Caden Homniok (.388, 36 RBI, 23 runs; 11-1, 1.31 ERA, 87 strikeouts, 32 BB) … Wes Folse (.333, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 16 runs) … Caden Wilhelm … Nathan Nance (.343, 18 RBI, 28 runs, 15 SB) … Cord Filipp (.297, 17 RBI, 27 runs) … Braden Norris (.361, 23 RBI, 28 runs, 10 SB) … Jackson Kiddy (9-1, 0.27 Era, 71 strikeouts, 11 BB) … Tyler Shepard … Tyler Mills … Blake Benavides … Noah Pate … Joe Effenberger (.429, 13 doubles, 6 triples, 5 HR, 44 RBI, 29 runs) … Landon Hammond … Zachery Peterson … Garrett Nail … Mason Massey … Dylan Douget … Jorge Rios … Colby Douget

Did you know: Sweeny is making its fourth trip to the UIL State Baseball Tournament, also making the journey in 1985, 2012 and last season … A year ago

ARGYLE

Mascot: Eagles

Coach: Ricky Griffin

How they got here: Def. Stephenville (7-3, 5-1), Def. Graham (2-1, 15-0), Def. Brownwood (22-0, 11-1), Def. Canyon (9-0, 19-1), Def. Iowa Park (2-0)

Roster: Tate Van Poppel (8-0, 1.77 ERA, 51 strikeouts) … Sean Bolin (8-1, 2.45 Era, 43 strikeouts) … Dillon Carter (.398, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 54 runs, 17 SB) … Preston King (.378, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 48 runs) … Nico Patrick … Cade Merka (20 RBI) … Branden Dixon (.357, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 18 SB) … Alex Gonzales (.2 HR, 33 RBI, 17 SB) … Riley Hartman … Cole Kirkpatrick … Chad Ricker (5 HR, 34 RBI; 11-0, 0.94 Era, 95 strikeouts) … Hayden Clearman (41 RBI, 10 SB) … Tyler Abrego … Austin King … Bo Hogeboom … Nate Blachowicz … Frank Russell … Mason Green … Blake Ramsey … Cullen Davee … Tyler Grubbs … Ethan Gonzales … J.D. Crowder … Landen Harless … Trevor Duck … Jake Sullivan

Did you know: Van Poppel is the son of Todd Van Poppel, a first-round draft pick in the 1990 draft who pitched for 11 seasons in the majors … Argyle, the defending Class 4A state champion, is in the state tournament for the fourth time – all coming since 2014 (2-14, 2015, 2018 … Argyle’s lone loss this season came to Class 6A Southlake Carroll (11-1), which will compete for the 6A championship this weekend

LA VERNIAMascot: Bears

Coach: Judd Guidry

How they got here: Def. Crystal City (19-8, 13-3), Def. Beeville Jones (13-0, 4-2); Def. Hidalgo (9-6, 10-9, 10-2); Def. Lamar Fulshear (2-5, 13-2, 11-5); Def. Liberty Hill (2-8, 5-2, 5-4)

Roster: Koy Carpenter (.35) … John Michael Kadrmas (.308) … Colton Swize (.323) … Kyle Gates (.300; 2-3) … Clayton Chadwick (.434; 5-0) … Lance Kruse (.326; 5-2) … Dawson Friederick … Luke Lytle … Easton Parrish (.377)… Walker Ring (9-3) … Hunter Homeyer (.327; 7-3) … Jimmy Elrod … Zach Scott … Garrett Landin … Orrin Jackson … Braden Pressley … Logan Wilson

Did you know: The Bears are in the state tournament for the first time in school history … La Vernia close out the regular season with seven straight wins and won its first five playoff games before falling to Hidalgo

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