Cardinals eliminated in three by Hudson
Last updated 5/16/2023 at 12:03pm
Pitching was the name of the game during the three game series in the area round of the state Class 4A baseball playoffs between the Bridge City Cardinals and the Lufkin Hudson Hornets. All three games were shutouts with the Hornets winning games one and three to take the playoff two games to one over the Cardinals with the complete series held in Jasper.
The deciding game was played on Saturday, May 13. Bridge City was the designated home team for game three, and the home team had won both of the first previous games.
The Cardinals had an excellent chance to take the early lead in the bottom of the first inning. With one out Hunter Ford hit a blooper down the right field line that just landed in fair territory, and he barely was safe at second with a double.
A wild pitch moved Ford ninety feet closer to third base. JS Bearden hit a grounder to first base but Hornet first baseman Nolan Larsen made an accurate throw to the catcher and Ford was tagged out before reaching the plate for the second out of the inning.
An errant pickoff throw by the Hudson pitcher Matthew Gardner allowed Bearden to race all the way to third. Justin Abate walked to put Cardinals at first and third but a fly out to center ended the threat for Bridge City with no runs across.
Freshman Aidyn Mulhollan got the call to start for the Cardinals on the mound. Mulhollan retired the first five Hornet hitters he faced before walking Gardner and then retiring the next batter to get through two scoreless innings.
Kyle Daniel singled to lead off the top of the third for Hudson. A sacrifice and a ground out moved Daniel to third. Daniel scored the first run of the game on a flair to right field off the bat of Griff Salas that fell for a hit to give a 1-0 lead to the Hornets.
Bridge City came within inches of tying the score in the bottom of the fifth. Brice Swanton singled through the box with two outs and came home to apparently score when John Van Huis hit the ball over the Hudson centerfielder's glove for what looked like a sure triple.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the ball hit the hard artificial turf and bounced over the fence for a ground rule double. The ground rule meant Van Huis only got credit for a double and Swanton had to return to third base. Gardner induced a ground out from the next Bridge City batter and the two Cardinals were stranded at third and second.
Bearden walked to start the sixth for Bridge City. Abate sacrificed him to second but that was as far as JS got.
Designated hitter Diesel Gonzalez doubled off the left center field fence to begin the top of the seventh for Hudson. Courtesy runner Bryson Whitehead scored after a sacrifice and a ground out to put the Hornets up 2-0 with one at bat left for the Cardinals.
Gardner retired the Bridge City batters in order in the seventh to end the game. The Hornet lefthander allowed just three hits and three walks while striking out five in the complete game shutout for Lufkin Hudson.
Mulhollan did a splendid job for the Cardinals going seven innings yielding only four hits, issuing one walk, and striking out three. Cardinal Coach Chad Landry praised, "That was the best outing Aidyn has had in his high school career. I hope he continues to build off of it. Watching him compete and bulldogging it was just really fun to watch, and I'm proud of him. He did a great job."
Bridge City and Lufkin Hudson got to the dramatic third game with both of their aces throw shutting outs in the first two games. The Hornets won the first game 7-0 behind Colby Turner's three-hit shutout. Bridge City's Parker Norwood pitched three strong innings out of the bullpen to allow Landry to rest his other pitchers for the final two games.
The Cardinals' Braylen Collins threw a gem in the second game to even the series with a 4-0 win. Collins pitched a complete game giving up four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts.
It was a sad post-game for Bridge City as the Cardinals and Coach Landry said good bye to all the seniors. "Our senior class I'm so proud of them. Fifteen total seniors, thirteen players. I just told them it is very rare that that many guys buy into their role in high school sports, and we did not have a single player turn a jersey in. All of them stuck it out from the beginning, and I'm really proud of that senior group. We're going to talk about that senior group ten years down the road how they bought into the program and showed the next group of guys how it's supposed to be done," Landry concluded.