Just a season ago, the Lufkin Panthers’ run through the playoffs ended with a blowout loss and a sweep at the hands of the Hallsville Bobcats. This past weekend, the Panthers got a bit of retribution as well as a spot in the regional semifinals by returning the favor.
On Friday night, Lufkin used the right arm of Logan Lair and an explosive offense to cap off a two-game sweep of Hallsville, rolling to a 9-3 win in Class 5A Region II Quarterfinal action at Tyler’s Mike Carter Field. That came just a day after it erased a 5-0 deficit to come away with a 7-5 win on Thursday night.
Lair got the win on the mound for Lufkin by allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out three and walking none. He had plenty of help behind him as Blake Lazarine, who has led Lufkin’s offense throughout the postseason, delivered three hits and two RBI.
Jonathan Dewberry finished the series with six hits, including a two-hit effort on Saturday. Manuel Garcia and Adrian Pena each had two RBI and Haylen Green delivered a pair of hits and an RBI for the Pack. Unlike Thursday night, Lufkin took it to Hallsville from the start by scoring to first-inning runs.
Dewberry got his fifth straight hit of the series before Lazarine had an RBI single and Green hit an RBI double to make it 2-0. That lead was short lived as Hallsville scored three runs in the second inning for a 3-2 lead. That proved to be the Bobcats’ final lead of the night.
Lufkin knotted the game at 3-3 in the third inning when Lazarine delivered another RBI single. After the game was tied at 3-3 through five innings, Lufkin delivered the late-game heroics once again. The Panthers regained the lead in the sixth inning when Garcia delivered an RBI single.
The Panthers tacked on two insurance runs with the help of a Hallsville error, making it 6-3. The Panthers then erased all doubts in the seventh inning as Garcia drew an RBI by being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Pena hit a two-run single to make it 9-3.
Lufkin is now two rounds short of a berth in the state tournament. Next up for Lufkin will be a regional semifinal game against Mesquite Poteet. That series will start on Thursday night at 7 p.m. It will resume on Saturday at 5 p.m. with a third game to follow if necessary. All games will be played at Tyler’s Mike Carter Field.