Cardinal senior left fielder Jaden Dillon hadn’t pitched in two years before the start of the season but Saturday he settled in to his dual role as pitcher and chunked championship caliber baseball. He struck out 15 in game three of the Region III area round series to win the critical contest 9-3.
Bridge City now advances to meet the Jasper Bulldogs in the Region III quarterfinals next week. The Cardinals have prevailed over the defending Class-3A State Champions twice during the regular season. This will be the third meeting of the two contentious Dist. 21-3A rivals.
Sophomore Luke Rhodes earned his rite of passage against Needville. Rhodes hit his first varsity home run- a playoff special that blipped on the radar screens of passing 747 jetliners landing at Bush Intercontinental. The fifth inning three run homer stunned the BlueJays beyond revival. The newcomer ended the day with 5 RBI.
Needville jumped out early with a two-run first inning and Bridge City ended the frame with Joseph Robertson stranded on third. The second inning didn’t end any better for the Cardinals when Dillon singled and Jason Clark drew a walk but both were left standing on bases.
Needville pulled ahead 3-0 in the top of the third. Cardinal bats took over from there. Robertson started it out with a double. Cardinal shortstop Matt Hicks was walked. Blake Hubbard lined a single and the speedy Robertson and Hicks rounded bases. Robertson scored and Hicks went to third. Needville walked Dillon loading the bases and walked Clark scoring Hicks. The inning, however, ended with Hubbard, Dillon and Clark on base and Bridge City trailing 3-2.
Dillon battled Needville from the hill and the Cardinals went into the bottom of the fifth running out of game time. Dillon and first baseman Blake Snyder were both walked and Jason Clark’s sacrifice fly moved Dillon to third and Snyder to second. That’s when Rhodes cracked the sky and the Cardinals were suddenly on top 7-3.
Dillon continued to snuff Blue Jays and back at bat Big Red posted two more runs in the sixth inning. Hicks was walked and Cardinal senior catcher Casey Jackson singled to left field. Cardinal head coach Billy Bryant caught Needville off guard signaling bunt to slugger Hubbard. Hubbard laid down a beauty along the first base line surprising a deep set Needville. The sacrifice moved Hicks to third and Jackson to second. Jaden Dillon loaded the bases with a single. Snyder doubled for two more points carried in by courtesy runners Anthony Cessac and Force Zoch.
The Bridge City Cardinals brought home their fifth straight Region III area championship after losing game one of the series 2-1 on Thursday and tied it 8-1 in game two Friday.

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