PARIS — The inning the Pottsboro Cardinals needed was in the middle of happening and it allowed them to take the lead. It came in the middle of the game — the fourth inning — but White Oak wasn’t the type of team you could start counting down outs against that early.
The Roughnecks responded with a big inning of their own to keep Pottsboro from forcing a deciding Game 3 as White Oak went on to beat the Cardinals, 11-7, and sweep a Class 3A Region II semifinal series at Paris Chisum on Friday night.
White Oak (29-7) advanced to face either Beckville or Edgewood in the region final this week.
Pottsboro (23-7) had its best season in three years come to an end and the lineup will return eight starters, although the one graduating is Hunter Watson, the Texas A&M signee who could have a decision to make in a few weeks after the first couple rounds of the MLB Draft.
“We had three returning starters from last year’s team. I didn’t know how good we’d be. We got a little better every week and then got on a roll,” Pottsboro head coach Bart Williams said. “Next year we bring everybody back except one. He’s a big one though.”
The fourth inning saw the Cardinals turn a four-run deficit into a one-run lead. Jasek Hooker, who was 3-for-3 and scored three times, singled and Cooper Lyons was hit by a pitch. That ended Layton Alexander’s time on the mound and Jacob Young immediately served up a two-run triple to right by Will Cates.
Watson was intentionally walked — the middle of three times the Roughnecks chose that option with him — and Hayden Kent and Coby Langford followed with walks, the last forcing in a run.
Jackson Lipscomb tied the game at five with an RBI groundout to short and Jake Williams had an RBI single up the middle to put the Cardinals in front.
Outside of that, however, Pottsboro struggled to score despite runners on base in every other inning.
The Cardinals cut the lead to 3-1 in the second when they scored on Lyons’ RBI single. Then in the fifth after falling behind 9-6, Pottsboro trimmed the deficit by a run. Hooker singled and went to second thanks to an error on the play and after two walks, Langford was hit by a pitch to force in the run, to keep things going. The rally ended there, however, with a groundout to first.
Pottsboro stranded 12 runners, including the bases loaded twice, in addition to hitting into a pair of double plays and having a runner thrown out trying to steal third.
“We did have our opportunities,” Williams said. “There’s was just the one inning when we really hit.”
The other bases-loaded situation was to open the game when Alexander walked Cates, before one-out walks to Kent and Langford. Lipscomb flew out to right but it was shallow enough to keep Cates from tagging up.
In the top of the sixth, Elijah Trent, who threw a five-inning no-hitter in Game 1, came on in relief and Williams greeted him with a lead-off double down the left-field line but never moved off second. Hooker was hit by a pitch with one out before Lyons grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Clinging to a two-run lead, White Oak tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the sixth against Watson, who relieved Lyons. Trenton Gross had an RBI single and Anderson had a two-out RBI double to left.
After Pottsboro took the lead, the Roughnecks reclaimed it immediately and went up 9-6 by scoring all four runs with two outs. Kason Kinzle had an RBI single, Collin Bower hit a two-run double that landed just inside the right-field line and Anderson beat out an infield hit to short for the final run of the inning.
“Right when we had a chance they’d pop a couple back,” Williams said.
The Roughnecks jumped ahead 5-1 on Heath Hood’s two-out, two-run home run to right field in the second inning.
White Oak took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Hood led off the inning with an infield single to third and stole second before scoring on Young’s hit to left.
Trest followed with an RBI triple to right center and Dalton Sumrow had a sacrifice fly to left center.
“Cooper battled. Hunter came in and battled. It’s tough when guys can hit like that,” Williams said. “We fought the whole game. That’s a really good team. Any of the four teams left in the region had the chance to advance to state.”