Carlisle rallies to earn state bid

Caleb Colley embraces teammate Hunter Martin (left) after the Carlisle Indians defeated the Douglass Indians on Saturday at UT Tyler's Irwin Field. (Vanessa E. Curry)

Carlisle capped its state championship journey in style.

Hunter Martin slapped a walk-off, two-run single into left field with two outs and Carlisle clinched a berth in the state tournament with a thrilling 4-3 comeback win over Douglass in the Class 1A Region III final Saturday at UT Tyler’s Irwin Field.

The third time marked the charm for Carlisle after losses in the regional finals the previous two years.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Carlisle coach Wesley Colley. “We’d come up short (before). These kids are a special group. I’m so happy for them. They never gave up.”

Carlisle (25-2) never led until the final pitch. The seventh inning started with Shadow Sanders drawing a walk from Collin Wallace. After two straight outs, Wallace hit Clay Skelton, then after three balls, intentionally walked Clay Allphin to load the bases.

Following one strike, Martin made solid contact, placing the ball well in front of the left fielder, prompting Sanders and Skelton to circle third toward home, and electrifying the Carlisle crowd.

“The team was counting on me. I tried to calm down, clear everything out of my mind and do what I had to do,” said Martin, one of the team’s three seniors, who went 2 for 3 with two RBIs to lead Carlisle on offense. “It was a high, fastball. I just watched it fall. It was the greatest moment of my life.”

Gunner Baker pitched six shutdown innings, finishing with 13 strikeouts. Baker yielded two hits, both during a three-run second. The junior right-hander turned it up a notch over the final four innings, giving up zero hits with nine strikeouts.

“At first I came in relaxed,” said Baker, who upped his record to 14-0. “After that three-run inning I knew then I had to step it up. Things got way more intense. We knew how to push through all the way.”

Douglass gained the upper hand after Kolten Rhoudes scored Ty Marmon with a sacrifice fly and Blake Wallace ripped a two-run single to make it a 3-0 game.

Zach Brightwell scored Carlisle’s first two runs, doubling before coming in on Baker’s RBI-single in the third, and drawing a walk prior to coming around on Allphin’s sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Wallace walked eight batters on the day to lose the battle between unbeaten pitchers. Carlisle captured its second straight playoff victory over Douglass (26-4) after stopping them in the regional semifinals last year.

“Even though we were down three runs, they battled back,” Colley added. “It was an unbelievable finish.”

———

Class 1A Region III Final

Carlisle 4, No. 2 Douglass 3

At Irwin Field, UT Tyler

Douglass 003 000 0 — 3 2 0

Carlisle 001 010 1 — 4 6 3

Collin Wallace and Brandon Stanfield; Gunner Baker and Clay Allphin. W – Baker (14-0): L – Wallace (10-1). 2B – C: Zach Brightwell. SF – D: Kolten Rhoudes; C: Allphin. SB – D: Reed Westbrook; C: Brightwell (3), Hunter Martin, Baker, Shadow Sanders. CS – C: Allphin.

RECORDS — Douglass 26-4; Carlisle 25-2.

NEXT UP — Douglass season complete; Carlisle advances to Class 1A state baseball tournament Wednesday.

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