Harleton, Union Hill Set For State Berth Rematch

It is a rematch where the stakes are high and the rivalry is old. The Union Hill Bulldogs versus the Harleton Wildcats.

Their schools are about 30 miles a part, but somehow when it comes to baseball, Harleton and Union Hill share very common ground: A spot in the regional finals.

"It's a big rivalry, especially meeting in this game," said Wildcats Pitcher Colton Knucklos.

Their heated district battles are a fan favorite during the regular season. But there's been a new twist to this old story. Last year Harleton defeated Union Hill for the chance to go to state. The Bulldogs wanted a rematch, and they got just that.

"We've been here twice and it's just an adrenaline rush," said Bulldog pitcher Shawn Hayes. "Third times a charm."

After losing four district games, two of those to Union Hill, Harleton was not expected to make the playoffs. But they proved their strength last weekend, defeating top ranked Archer City.

"We have a tendency to play around sometimes but nobody is playing around this time," Colton said.

"They have a lot of respect for Union Hill," said Wildcats Head Coach Jackie Lloyd, "and I think Union Hill has a lot of respect for us."

Mat Benson might be new to Union Hill as head coach, but he's not new to the rivalry.

"I know the history between Harleton and Union Hill, my dad went to Harleton," he explained.

One game stands between these district rivals and state. Each hoping the season doesn't end there.

"We had a lot of fun going (to state) last year and I know everybody has been working hard this week and we're ready to go back, we want to go back," Colton said.

Harleton and Union Hill have their fight for a spot at state on Friday, June 2. It's a one game regional finals matchup at Kilgore's Driller Park. First pitch is at 7 p.m.

Maya Golden reporting