For the second consecutive season Arlington Martin advanced to the Class 5A state semifinals only to be shut out by a dominating pitching performance.
Fort Bend Dulles rode the right arm of senior pitcher Dakota Mills to a 3-0 victory Friday afternoon at Dell Diamond. Martin lost to eventual state champ Houston Cypress Ranch 6-0 last season.
“He was one of the best ones we’ve seen, just as far as not losing his strike zone,” Martin coach Curt Culbertson said. “He was going wherever he wanted to with his fastball. From that standpoint he was the best we’ve seen. He never gave us anything.”
Mills (14-0) struck out 11, including five in a row, walked just one and gave up two infield singles in a complete-game performance. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound West Virginia signee retired the final 10 batters for Martin (36-8) and didn’t allow a base runner past second.
“Definitely, my coach calls great pitches and if we can, ahead of time, we’ll go over what each of their batters do,” Mills said. “So before the guy even steps in the box I know what to throw, when to throw and how to throw it, and I’m mentally prepared for the team I’m going to face.”
Martin junior pitcher Turner Larkins (12-1) cruised through the first four innings before giving up an RBI single to Vikings right fielder Eric Johnson. Dulles added two more in the sixth off four hits, including a triple down the left-field line by second baseman Jaylen Hubbard, who drove in a run and scored in the inning.
Larkins, who went the distance, struck out six, walked two and gave up nine hits.
Culbertson praised his Warriors for returning to state and was already looking ahead to next season after the game.
“I think this team accomplished a lot to get back here with as little experience as we had in some key areas,” he said, “and we’re all young, it’s not the end.”
Dulles (32-7) will play in the state final at 11:30 a.m. Saturday against the winner of Friday’s game between Conroe The Woodlands and Northside O’Connor.
“It’s a great feeling,” Mills said. “These guys are like my brothers, and to be in the state championship is pretty much a Cinderella story. Now all we have to do is bring it home.”