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Baseball: Dragons win district, open playoffs against Marcus
Three games into the District 7-5A season and sporting a 1-2 record, Southlake Carroll head baseball coach Larry Hughes was just hopeful his team would start hitting in time to qualify for the playoffs with some momentum.
Done and done.
Not only did the Dragons qualify for the postseason, they got red-hot, winning 10-of-11 in district down the stretch to claim the 7-5A title.
Carroll (11-3) closed the regular season with a bang, defeating Denton Guyer Friday, 13-3, on the heels of a 15-0 win April 20 over Saginaw.
"We feel good about winning district," Hughes said. "We came into the year with pretty much all new guys at every position. So I thought it might take a little time. But we fought hard and played well."
The Dragons played long-ball against the Wildcats, receiving homers from Ben Sego, Ken Hill and Nick Arst. Sego also doubled and finished with a team-high four RBIs, while Tyler Barnes and Scott Smith knocked in two apiece. Drew Brown and Quinn Brankin rounded out the Dragons that drove in runs.
Greg Maisto and Robert Weisberg combined to limit Guyer to six hits on the bump, with Maistro striking out nine Wildcats in just five innings to earn the win.
Carroll rolls into the playoffs, where it opens with a best-of-3 series against Marcus (fourth in District 8-5A). The series gets underway at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Marcus with Game 2 shifting to Southlake at 4 p.m. Friday. Game 3, if necessary, will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday in Grapevine.
A Carroll offense which scored 28 runs in its last two games will have to stay hot against Marcus, which has allowed just six runs total in its last six district games, including three shutouts.
Starting pitcher Colin Poche' in particular has been dominant.
During his last four district outings, including a brief tune-up in Marcus' finale Friday against Hebron, Poche' has allowed one run on eight hits with 40 strikeouts in just 24 innings.
"It's going to be a huge challenge," Hughes said. "They have very good pitchers, but we've been swinging the bats well and have been doing a good job of squaring up on the ball.
"And we like our pitchers, too. We have two good lefties who are strikeout pitchers and I think our teams are pretty similar. It's going to be an interesting series."
While Marcus didn't reach the playoffs last season, seeding typically hasn't been a sign of things to come in past. In both 2009 and 2010, the Marauders entered the playoffs as the No. 4 and 3 seed, respectively, but reached the regional finals and regional semifinals.
The Dragons, meanwhile, return to the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season and haven't lost a first-round series this century, including 11 seasons of reaching at least the regional quarterfinals. Last year, their run ended with a third-round loss against Plano Senior.