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May 8, 2014

Cardinals prepared for Sweeny test

BRIDGE CITY — One thing for certain, the Bridge City Cardinal baseball program knows how to get it done in the postseason.

The Cardinals, winners of 23 district championships, easily wiped out the Tarkington Longhorns in the Class 3A Region III bidistrict playoffs last week to advance to the area round for a stunning 14th straight year.

Now they turn their focus on another proud program when they take on the Sweeny Bulldogs in the area round tonight and Saturday at Baytown Sterling High School.

Game One will be at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Game Two will be at 1 p.m. Saturday with Game Three, if necessary, to follow 30 minutes after Game Two.

“The kids are excited and ready to go,” said Cardinal coach Chad Landry. “The seven-day break between games have them restless and ready to play some ball.”

The two teams will certainly be familiar with one another. After all, the Cardinals (24-3-2) took down the Bulldogs (19-9), the runnerups this season out of District 24-3A, in the same round last year.

Bridge City defeated Sweeny 4-1 in Game One last season. The Cardinals came back the next day by dominating the Bulldogs 11-0 to sweep the series behind a six-inning no-hit, 11-strikeout performance by senior Preston Pittman.

“We know a lot about each other,” said Landry. “They have four or five kids back that contributed for them last year. They know how to win ballgames and they have an excellent tradition.”

The Cardinals made quick work of Tarkington in the bidistrict round winning 5-0 and 17-4.

In Game One, junior ace Chase Shugart mowed down the Longhorns, striking out 13 and tossing a complete-game four-hitter. Bryson McFarland, Kyle Bergeron and Blaine McElduff have each seen good time on the mound this season as well for BC.

Landry isn’t sure who will start Game One for the Cardinals.

“It’s a three-game series and weather could play a factor this week,” said Landry. “We’ll just see how things go and go from there.”

The Cardinals blitzed Tarkington in Game Two, utilizing a 14-run barrage in the third inning to subdue the Longhorns.

Bridge City received timely hitting throughout their lineup in the series win over the Longhorns.

Keaton Langston had the hottest stick, collecting six hits in the two wins.

Hunter Uzzle had four hits, including two doubles and a triple. Ashton Hunter had a pair of hits while Trevor Gunn sparked the bottom of the lineup with three hits from his No. 9 slot.

The Bridge City-Sweeny winner will face either Huffman or Stafford in the regional quarterfinals next week.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, blasted Houston Washington 21-0 in their bidistrict affair.

Coach David Luster welcomes back several key players off last year’s strong team.

The Bulldogs tied West Columbia for the District 24-3A title. Columbia won a tiebreaker game to earn the district’s top seed. Four of the nine Bulldog losses have come at the hands of West Columbia.

Mitchell Ullum has been the Bulldogs’ top starter on the hill throughout the season. Luster has also turned to a couple more arms in the forms of Brendan Frankum and Blayne Bailey.

“Ullum pitched some last year but has really been strong for them this year,” said Landry. “He’s definitely a top-notch starter. They have a few other guys that can bring it too.”

The Bulldogs are formidable at the plate, with Frankum, Ross Nairn, Shawn Kelley and Taylor Robertson leading the way.

“They don’t have any weak spots,” said Landry. “They hit the ball well up and down the lineup and are a scrappy team that likes to compete.”

The Silsbee Tigers, runnerups out of 21-3A behind the Cardinals, will face Columbia in a best-of-three series at Humble Kingwood Friday and Saturday. Game One is Friday at 7:30 p.m. Game Two is 1 p.m. Saturday with Game Three to follow if necessary.

Other big-name teams remain in the quest for the Region III title and a trip to Austin including the likes of No. 1-ranked College Station, Carthage and Robinson.

“Our region, from top to bottom is so tough,” said Landry. “You get out of this region, you’re doing something special. Our kids are focused and it’s always great to get that first playoff series over with. We know we’ve got a big test in front of us this weeks and the kids are prepared.”

The area still has two Class 2A teams motoring along in the postseason.

Kirbyville will face New Diana in a three-game set at Lufkin’s Morris Frank Park. Game One was Thursday at 7 p.m. Game Two is Saturday at 1 p.m. with Game Three to follow if necessary.

Kountze will tangle with Luling in a best-of-three at Baseball USA in Houston. Game One is Friday at 7 p.m. Game Two is Saturday at 4 p.m. with Game Three to follow if necessary.

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