TEXARKANA, Texas — The first game between Liberty-Eylau and Kilgore lived up to the billing.
The Leopards (22-6-2) edged the Bulldogs (15-11) Thursday night in the first game of their bi-district series at H. E. Markham Park, 3-1.
"We told them in the beginning of the year, that defense and pitching would win a state championship," Liberty-Eylau head baseball coach Zach Fowler said. "That was our formula tonight with the pitching a defense.
"We also had some timely hitting. We have to keep doing it, because we were lucky to get this win."
Hunter Burks drove in Nate Moore for the game's first run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Hunter finished 1 for 2 with a RBI at the dish for L-E, while teammate Moore went 0 for 2 with a run scored.
During the following at-bat, Zach Brush scored on a Kilgore fielding error, adding to the Leopards lead, 2-0.
Gage Bellatti started on the bump for the Leopards. Bellatti hurled a complete game, gave up one run and struck out seven batters.
"Gage was awesome tonight," Fowler said, "He came out and threw strikes for us against a tough lineup. They're a good baseball team.
"He was able to capitalize off their mistakes and we were able to come away with it."
Bellatti gave himself some insurance in the bottom of the sixth inning, hitting a solo homerun over the right fielder's head, giving the Leopards a 3-0 cushion. Bellatti went 1 for 2 with a solo homerun.
Kyle Wheeler drove in Jake Thompson for the Bulldogs only run of the game in the top of the sixth inning.
The Leopards turned a double play to end the game and take the series lead.
The second game of the series will begin at 5:30 p.m., in Kilgore at Bulldog Field.
"They're not going to lay down," Fowler said. "We better come ready to play or our season could end."