HOUSTON — It’s hard to remain an unbiased reporter covering this group of Diboll Lumberjacks.
Down 3-1 with two innings to go, the Lumberjacks scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and held on for a 5-3 victory Friday night over Silsbee in Game 1 of the Region III-3A final at Cougar Field on the University of Houston campus.
Game 2 will be played at 3 p.m. Saturday at Rice University, with Game 3, if necessary, to follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2.
Senior Castillo isn’t known as a long-ball hitter, but he picks his spots. His first came on Senior Night in a win over Carthage that helped Diboll finish third in the district. His second came Friday night – a solo blast for an insurance run in the sixth.
“I was just looking for a base hit,” Castillo said. “It felt amazing.”
Then all he had to do was go back out onto the mound and close out another complete game. Following a Diboll fielding error, Castillo got a groundout to second base, a strikeout and a fly out to center field.
Things looked a little bleak for Diboll in the early going, as Silsbee scored three unearned runs in the top of the second inning.
However, Castillo came through in the next two innings, facing just six batters.
“I was struggling at first. But, I was telling myself to keep my head up. We scored that run and I got my confidence up,” Castillo said.
Diboll got on the board in the fourth. Senior Jay Lowe battled through several fouls to reach first on a walk. He went to second on a ground out and hustled home from there on an Alex Aguilar single. Senior Alex Grimaldo walked and Castillo sac-bunted them each up a base. A strikeout stranded the runners, though.
Silsbee threatened in the fifth via a rope to centerfield and a ground up the middle. However, a 6-4-3 (Eric DeJesus-to-Gunner Horton-to-Jay Lowe) double play ended the threat.
Lowe led off the Diboll sixth with a single, sliding head first into the base to beat out the throw. Christian Palacio then walked and both runners advanced on a balk. Following a fly out, Grimaldo tied the game with a double down the third base line. Grimaldo stole second base and scored the game-winner on a poorly thrown ball to third.