You could say Arlington Martin pitcher Turner Larkins had a dress rehearsal for the situation that faced him Friday at Quik Trip Park.
With a 4-1 lead, Larkins had Southlake Carroll runners on first and second with two outs and Carroll third baseman and cleanup hitter Kenny Hill up to bat.
It was nearly the same scenario that Larkins faced last year when Martin ended Carroll’s season in Game 3 of that Class 5A Region I final by striking out Hill.
Friday, Larkins secured Martin’s 4-1 win and second straight trip to the state tournament, forcing Hill to ground out to shortstop.
“I would have liked to keep those two off base, but it couldn’t have worked out better than it did,” said Larkins, who improved to 13-0.
After Martin took Game 1 on Thursday, it seemed destined that the series would go to a third game at QuikTrip Park.
On Friday, Carroll (34-6) scored first, thanks to a bases-loaded walk of Hill in the top of the third. The stage had been set by a walk, a hit batter and a single by Carroll catcher Hayden Zier.
“I just wasn’t mentally focused that inning, but I came back out and gave it my all,” Larkins said.
Larkins went the distance, throwing 120 pitches, striking out seven and giving up five hits. He threw 80 strikes.
Carroll owned the momentum with its one-run lead through six innings before Martin’s bats came alive. Catcher Matt Waller began the rally with a one-out single and would be later score on a sacrifice fly by third baseman and Game 1 winning pitcher Daniel Lingua, tying the score 1-1.
A couple of batters later, first baseman Landon Sackett singled in a run, followed by a two-run double by designated hitter Colton Hoisanger, who played in his first game of the series Friday.
While Larkins labored on the mound, his defense came to his aid, making several diving plays and demonstrating Martin’s (37-7) consistent top-notch effort behind him, Larkins said.
“That’s why we are going to state,” Larkins said.