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ROUND ROCK - Aledo senior pitcher Chris Reed threw a six hitter with seven strikeouts in a complete-game effort to lead the Bearcats to a convincing 9-1 victory over Hallsville Thursday night in the Class 4A semifinals at Dell Diamond.
The win advances Aledo to the state championship game. The Bearcats will face Victoria East, a 4-1 winner over Richmond George Ranch in the other semifinal, in the 4A championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at Dell Diamond.
"Chris is our ace for a reason," Bearcats head coach Chad Barry said. "He came out in the biggest game of his life and pitched just like we were hoping he would. I couldn't ask for anything more."
The Bearcats scored runs in the final five innings, with the three-run fifth the big inning that gave Aledo a 6-1 lead. Aledo swatted 10 hits, and was led by Dakota Durant with a pair of hits and three runs batted in.
"Our hitters seem to build off each other and they keep finding ways to get guys on base and get them in," Barry said. "It was a total team effort offensively."
Reed also gave credit to the Bearcats' hitters, saying it makes it easy to pitch for a team hitting as well as they have in this year's playoff run.
"I had my fast ball going early on, but at the end I got my cutter working very well," Reed said. "Once I got the cutter going I started doing better.
"I just hit my spots early on, and Coach Thompson did a great job of calling pitches. It was a great team effort all around to get this win. (Thursday night) was the best I have ever seen our team hit, and they hit well against a good pitcher (Hallsville starting pitcher Connor Reich).
"It was a great team win, and now we play for a state championship."
The Bearcats, trailing 1-0, scored twice in the top of the third inning and never trailed after that. The big hit in the frame was a two-RBI double by Durant.
Aledo scratched for a run in the fourth to increase its led to 3-1. Taco Anderson lined a one-out single and scored three batters later on a single by Tyson Mauser.
The Bearcats sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth, scoring three runs. Anderson, Zane Scott and Hershel Gardner each were credited with an RBI. Anderson walked with the bases loaded; Gardner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded; and Scott drove in a run on an infield single to extend the AHS advantage to 6-1.
The Bearcats added a run in the sixth for a 7-1 cushion. Connor Duer drove in Wade Raburn, who had reached on an infield hit.
Aledo closed the scoring with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh for a 9-1 lead. Matt Dunn walked and was driven in by a sacrifice fly by Mauser. Josh Cambre reached on an error and scored when Durant was walked with the bases loaded.
Reed finished the game in strong fashion in the seventh, retiring three of four batters with three strikeouts.
Barry said after the contest that Taco Anderson will take the hill for the title game.