Dramatic finish sends Carlisle on to state tourney
By Rick Kretzschmar firstname.lastname@example.org
June 2, 2012 at 11 p.m.
TYLER – Hunter Martin secured his place in Carlisle baseball history on Saturday.
Martin smacked a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to give Carlisle a thrilling 4-3 win over Douglass in the Class A Region III final at UT Tyler's Irwin Field.
Carlisle (25-2) advances to the state tournament for the first time, playing a Class A state semifinal on Wednesday at Dell Diamond in Round Rock with the opponent and time to be determined.
Martin was the third of a trio of Carlisle batters which prevented their team's season from ending.
With two outs and Shadow Sanders on second, Clay Skelton was hit by a Colin Wallace pitch. After Sanders and Skelton moved up a base on a wild pitch by Colin Wallace, Clay Allphin was intentionally walked to set up Martin.
Martin took an 0-1 pitch to left-center. As Sanders and Skelton scored, Martin flailed his arms in celebration after he passed first base before greeting assistant coach Rocky Baker in foul territory.
"After I passed first I said, 'Coach Baker, we did it!,'" Martin said. "I got the hit on a fastball.
"I'm ready to celebrate."
Martin's hit concluded a slow rally after Douglass (26-4) scored all of its runs in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead.
Kolten Rhoades opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly to right and Blake Wallace would follow with a two-out, two-run single up the middle.
Douglass got its only hits in the third inning. After that frame, Carlisle pitcher Gunner Baker zeroed in for perhaps his best stretch of pitching in the postseason. Leaning on a sharp curveball, and taking advantage of a generous strike zone, the Carlisle pitcher finished with 13 strikeouts and two walks on 121 pitches to improve on 14-0 this season. The Carlisle pitcher did not allow a hit or a walk after the third inning.
"I just had to pump the team up. This is overwhelming," Gunner Baker said. "This is for my dad (Rocky) because he's never been to state before."
Right fielder Zach Brightwell was a major factor in Carlisle clawing back into the game.
Brightwell had the only extra-base hit of the game, a double to left-center, in the third inning and he scored on a Gunner Baker single to center.
In the fifth inning, Brightwell drew a walk, stole second and third and scored on a Clay Allphin sacrifice fly to right.
On Allphin's RBI there was a throw in vain to get Brightwell at home in which Carlisle's Gunner Baker attempted to advance to third base. Baker initially beat the throw by Douglass catcher Brandon Stanfield, but Baker went past the base and Douglass third baseman Rhoades tagged Baker out to end the inning. The Carlisle pitcher said he was bumped by Rhoades.
Brightwell led Carlisle base running in which the team was 6-for-7 on steal attempts. This included Sanders stealing second with one out after leading off the bottom of the seventh with a walk.
"When we got down 3-0 we just focused on staying alive," Brightwell said. "We knew we had a lot of baseball to play."
Colin Wallace (10-1) suffered his first loss of this season. The Douglass pitcher had eight strikeouts and eight walks while allowing seven hits. Martin was the only multi-hit batter of the game, going 2-for-4 with an infield single in the fourth inning.
Carlisle head coach Wesley Colley said Saturday's game reminded him of a region-quarterfinal win over Garrison in 2007, in which the game had to be resumed after being postponed by rain similar to Saturday's game, which was originally scheduled for Thursday. Johnny Jackson had a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh against Garrison.
"This ranks up there with one of the greatest games I've ever been involved with," Colley said. "This is great group of kids. They didn't quit."
Gunner Baker pitched out of a jam in the second inning. Rhoades reached third base and Brandon Stanfield reached on a throwing error by Carlisle third baseman Emmett Wooten with one out. Baker got Bryce Westbrook to pop out to first and got Matthew Wallace to ground out to second to end the threat.