COPPELL -- Arlington Martin rode a five-run fourth inning to an 8-4 victory over Hurst L.D. Bell in Game 3 of their Class 5A Region I semifinals series to advance to face Southlake Carroll in the Region I final next weekend.
With the game tied at 1-1, Martin catcher Collin Lawrence started the outburst in the fourth by drawing the second of his four walks, then Seth Henry and Tyler Kendrick reached on an error and an infield single, respectively.
Josh Watson drove in two runs with his bases-loaded double, and Matt Waller singled home another run.
"It was huge," Martin coach Curt Culbertson said. "[Bell pitcher Weston Sims] was pitching very well. That's the way we've been scoring runs. We've been scoring in bunches."
The fourth inning was punctuated by Drew Dowdy's two-run homer to left field that had him screaming on the way to touching home plate.
"I'm usually not an emotional guy; I hold it in, but it was just such a big time in the game that everything came out all at once," Dowdy said.
The home run predictably excited his teammates, but it also excited Culbertson.
"He was pumped, wasn't he? I was pumped," Culbertson said of the display. "The first 180 [feet], I was screaming my head off."
From there, the game came down to whether starter Turner Larkins and Martin pitchers could protect the five-run lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Bell responded by scoring two runs of its own to narrow the gap to 6-3.
After Larkins walked the leadoff batter in the sixth, Culbertson had seen enough from Larkins, although he was happy with his underclassman starter’s Game 3 performance.
“I thought as a sophomore pitching in this venue right here, I thought he did good,” Culbertson said. “I don’t think he was as sharp as he had been the last two weekends, but he stuck it out there.”
Martin put the game away for good, however, when it picked up a run apiece in the sixth and seventh innings — all without gathering a single hit. Combined over the two innings, the Blue Raiders surrendered four walks, a hit batter and two sacrifice hits.
“It was momentum for us and it was keeping them without momentum,” Culbertson said. “That was big in the emotional part of the game. Any time you put a run up, it’s good, but at that point in the game it was definitely important to continue to put pressure on then.”