By Larry Lamb
NACOGDOCHES – The Kennard Tigers exploded for six runs in the seventh inning of Game 1 and seven in the sixth inning of Game 2 to sweep a best-of-three area round series over Chireno.
The No. 5 ranked Tigers (20-12) won 11-3 on Thursday night and 10-3 on Saturday afternoon.
Chireno kept itself in both games until late. The Owls only trailed the Tigers 5-3 after six innings in the series opener and were tied 3-3 after five innings in the second game.
In Game 1, Kennard scored two in the first and two in the fourth to grab a 4-0 lead.
The Tigers struck early after a leadoff triple by Jaden Kulms, who scored on a passed ball. Caleb Alfred singled, stole second and third, and scored on a passed ball.
With one out in the fourth, Elijah Dowdy hit a line-drive single to center field and advanced to third on an error by the pitcher. After Tristan Burgess drew a two-out walk, Nick Dowdy drove in Elijah Dowdy and Burgess scored on the throw for a 4-0 lead
Chireno got back in the game in the bottom of the fourth with a pair of RBI singles. A third run scored on an error, closing the gap to 4-3.
The Tigers picked up a run in the sixth when Keyton Lumbreraz walked, stole second, advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a passed ball.
Kennard fans started breathing a little easier as the seventh-inning onslaught progressed.
Kulms hit a one-out single, stole second and third, and scored on a base hit by Dylan Cole.
Cole stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and stole home. After Ryan Pilkington walked and Lumbreraz singled, Elijah Dowdy drove in a pair runs for a 9-3 lead.
With bases loaded after Adrian Montero singled and Burgess walked, Nick Dowdy was hit by pitch to bring in Kennard's final run.
The Tigers were aggressive on the base paths with 11 steals. Alfred, Burgess,Cole and Kulms swiped two apiece while Lumbreraz, Miller and Pilkington each had one.
Cole recorded the complete game victory, giving up three runs on four hits with 14 strikeouts and two walks.
"Dylan threw his butt off. He got ahead early. Seventy-five percent of the time when you get ahead of the batter you're going to get him out. That's what helped us out in the first game," said Tigers head coach Blake Wallace. "They found some barrels here and there, but we were able to keep our composure and hit the ball to where they weren't."
The Tigers collected 11 hits. Kulms was 3-for-5 with a triple while Alfred and Elijah Dowdy each collected two base hits.
Cole, Lumbreraz, Montero and Nick Dowdy each booked a hit while Burgess got on base with three walks.
Game 2 on Saturday was tied 3-3 midway in the sixth.
"The biggest factor was keeping our cool in the face of adversity. The score stood at 3-3 for a long time. But if you do things the right way things are eventually going to turn around for you and I think that's what happened today," Wallace said after the Tigers won Game 2 to clinch the series.
The Tigers scored three runs in the second inning. Kennard got on the scoreboard when Lumbreraz doubled home Pilkington, who had a leadoff double. Lumbreraz scored when Montero hit a ground ball and reached on an error. Montero scored on a bunt single by Nick Dowdy.
The Owls tied it up 3-3 in the top of the fourth on a two-RBI double and a passed ball run.
The stalemate continued until the bottom of the sixth when Kennard opened the floodgates with a two-out rally.
With two runners aboard on walks, Burgess scored to put Kennard in front when Kulms hit a pop fly and reached on an error by the pitcher.
After Caleb Alfred was hit by pitch, Nick Dowdy scored on a passed ball, Kulms came home on a balk and Alfred scored on a passed ball to make it 7-3.
The Tigers pushed across two more runs on three consecutive triples by Cole, Pilkington and Lumbreraz, who came home on another balk.
Kulms recorded the pitching win, allowing four hits and three runs over 6 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks.
Pilkington took the mound with two outs in the seventh and closed the game with a strikeout
The Tigers collected 10 hits off three Chireno pitchers, who combined for four strikeouts and four walks.
Lumbreraz had three hits while Montero and Pilkington logged two apiece. Lumbreraz and Pilkington both booked a double and a triple.
Collecting one hit each were Nick Dowdy, Elijah Dowdy and Cole, who had a triple.