By Dave Rogers

For The Record

West Orange-Stark moved a step closer to its second state tournament appearance in three years while Bridge City’s baseball team is looking for its most successful season in a decade.

Wins by both teams in matchup of District 22-4A teams – No. 5-ranked West Orange-Stark, the district champ, knocked off fourth-place Orangefield and Bridge City, the third-place finisher, knocked off district runnerup Silsbee – puts them both in Class 4A Region III semifinal series this week.

The winners of these two series face off next week for a trip to state.

China Spring’s Cougars stand between the Bridge City Cardinals’ most successful season in 10 years.

The two teams open a best-of-three series at Montgomery High School at 7 p.m. Thursday. Game 2 will be at 4 p.m. Saturday, with a third game to follow, if it’s needed.

A win in the series will put Bridge City in the Region III finals for the first time since 2007.

And it would continue a season that has seen Bridge City confound the experts.

“We finally got out of district play,” Coach Chad Landry said, when asked how a third-place District 22-4A finisher has been so successful.

“Our district was so tough top to bottom. I’m not going to downplay how we are heating up. We are.”

One reason the Cardinals started slow is the same reason why many didn’t like their chances back in February or March.

Eleven of their 15 players had never been in a varsity game before this season. Landry said it was easily his youngest team.

“The offense we knew would come around eventually,” he said. “Our young guys finally got 25 games experience and it’s showing.

“We are really efficient on the mound right now and our defense has been solid.”

Bridge City played small ball to frustrate Silsbee, which outscored Bridge City 19-2 during their two regular-season games. This time, the Cardinals won, 11-1, 2-1, taking advantage of their bunts.

“I think it’s a huge deal for our guys,” Landry said of defeating the team that had BC’s number during district play.

“We have a team full of guys that don’t get a lot of hype or pub. We won’t make many all-star teams but we have an opportunity to play after graduation, which is exciting for us.”

This is the sixth time in nine years for the Cardinals to reach the regional semifinals. The school’s graduation ceremony is set for Friday.

Schuyler Thibodaux and Logan Hamm each went 4 for 7 in the series against Silsbee, both going 3 for 4 with an RBI in the opening runaway. Six different Cardinals had a single hit in the second game.

The series finale was won when Jacob Goodman doubled and pinch runner Brady Coulter scored from second on a throwing error after Gavin Green’s bunt.

Goodman was the winning pitcher in Game 2, scattering seven hits. Peyton Havard won Game 1 for BC, allowing just five hits.

“Thibodaux and Hamm are hitting over .500 in the playoffs,” the Cardinals coach said. “The rest of the lineup has applied pressure in a lot of different ways.”

Bridge City’s record improves to 20-12 while China Spring, the runnerup in District 17-4A, brings a 22-9-1 record into the series.

“We just need to continue to produce like we have been the last five weeks,” Landry said.

High School Playoffs

Baseball

Last week’s results:

West Orange-Stark defeats Orangefield in single game playoff, 2-0.

Bridge City defeats Silsbee in best-of-three series, 11-1, 2-1.

This week’s games:

West Orange-Stark vs. Robinson (single game)

G1: Thursday, 7 p.m., Magnolia High School.

Bridge City vs. China Spring (best-of-three)

G1: Thursday, 7 p.m., Montgomery High School.

G2: Saturday, 4 p.m., Montgomery High School.

G3: Saturday, if needed, 7 p.m., Montgomery High School.