If you absolutely, positively, have to win a district game, you might as well do it with style.
Sulphur Springs used the 10-run rule to hammer Marshall, 11-1 in Friday night district baseball action at Eagle Stadium.
The home crowd on the cool April night got to see dominating play from the Wildcats with the visitors from Marshall never really a threat.
“It was absolutely, without a doubt, a must win. We have been playing well at home and this win puts us right back into the hunt for a playoff berth,” said Jerrod Hammack, Sulphur Springs head baseball coach following the big win. “We are 2-3 now in district, just like Marshall. It was a nice feeling to get a win. I am so glad we played well.”
Hammack said, “With the talent on this team, if we play well, we have a chance to win most games. We don’t have to worry about the score, it will take care of what we need to do.”
Tyler Follis got his second complete game dominating win in district. The right-hander threw more than 100 pitches to get the victory. He faced 28 batters, allowed seven hits, one run, three walks, two hit batters while striking out four.
“Tyler was getting tired, we wanted to use another pitcher just to get our bullpen some competitive game work,” Hammack said. “But he wanted to continue and was getting outs.”
Losing pitcher was Branson Bilnoski for Marshall. He pitched four innings, giving up seven runs off four hits, walking five and hitting two batters facing 24 hitters. DeAndre McAfee, a slender southpaw, threw the final two frames giving up four runs off three hits, one walk, hitting one batter, facing 10 Wildcats.
Seven different Wildcats had one hit. The highlight and game-capper, was a three-run homer by Ross Cody. Ethan Phillips knocked in two, Brennan Brock also had one RBI.
Sulphur Springs took control of the game early, scoring twice in each of the first two frames.
In the opening inning, Alex Burney belted the second pitch he saw for a solid single to center field. Landon Brock coaxed a walk and the Wildcats had a rally in the making with two speedy runners on base with no outs. Brennan Brock was hit by a Bilnoski pitch to load the sacks. Carson Hicks and Larry Pryor were retired on infield fly balls. Ethan Phillips came up big with two outs, belting a shot down the right field line to score two runs. Cody was retired on a fly ball, but the home team had broke the seal on the game, taking a 2-0 lead.
Marshall managed a single, but nothing more in the two of the second as Follis sat down the Mavs in quick order.
In the bottom of the second, it was a walk to Ben Brooks that got things cooking for the Wildcats. Ryan Ferguson hit into a fielder’s choice. C.J. Phillips running for Ferguson stole second. Burney flied out to center. A wild pitch moved Phillips to third. Landon Brock reached on an infield error and Phillips scored. Brock stole second and scored when Brennan Brock singled to right field to make it a 4-0 game. Hicks reached on a walk, but was left stranded when Pryor popped out to the outfield.
The Wildcats were now up 4-0 and Follis started to cruise on the hill. Marshall went down without a struggle in the top of the third.
Sulphur Springs had a scoreless third, but let their leather do the talking in the top of the fourth.
With one out, Tanner Arst drew a five pitch walk. Josh Cole grounded into an double play to quell the rally. Sulphur Springs used fancy glove work to turn the twin killing in the middle of the infield going from Burney to Landon Brock over to Hicks at first base.
The Wildcats came back with their bats and did work for three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Burney drew a one-out walk. Landon Brock beat out a bunt, Burney moved all the way to third on the aggressive play. Brennan Brock was walked on four pitches and the Wildcats had the bases juiced. Hicks was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Pryor struck out after it was ruled that early in the count, he did not try to get out of the way of a pitched ball. Two runs scored on a wild pickoff play to make it a 7-0 game. Phillips went down on a ground out.
The visitors scratched across a run in the top of the fifth. They used a walk, hit batter and error for the lone tally of the game. Action moved to the bottom of the fifth the Wildcats up 7-1.
Sulphur Springs got two base runners with Cody greeting new pitcher McAfee with a walk. Brooks singled. But the lefty for Marshall worked out of the jam without allowing a run.
Marshall had their biggest threat of the game in the top of the sixth. With two outs, Jesse Andrews came off the bench for a single to right field connecting on a 1-2 pitch from Follis. Janson Westmoreland had his pop fly fall in between fielders. Cameron Haller reached base getting struck by a pitch. The Mavs had the bases loaded and were ready to erupt. But not so fast. The Wildcats have a weapon in left field named - Pryor, Larry Pryor. Leadoff hitter Trel Patton sliced a sinking liner to left. Pryor came in quickly, then had to change direction, reaching across his body to make a falling down circus catch at knee level. Marshall was left to wonder what might have been, as Sulphur Springs celebrated the nifty two-out grab.
“The game would have been different if that ball falls in, no doubt,” Hammack said. “That would have given them at least three runs.”
The Wildcats put a cap on the game in the bottom of the sixth.
Landon Brock worked the count for a walk. Brock stole second. Garret Hood, in his first at-bat of the game, belted a single to plate the speedy Brock. Pryor reached after being hit by a pitch. Phillips popped out. Cody then ended the game in a flash, ripping a McAfee over the left field fence for a home run.
The happy Wildcats met Cody at the plate and claimed the hard-fought 11-1 win.
“Ross found a fastball he liked turned on it. It was a nice hit,” Hammack said with a grin.
The Wildcats start the second half of district on the road against rival Mount Pleasant.
“We hope this win over Marshall gives us a jump start to beat Mount Pleasant,” Hammack said. “They are very good. We just need to play well.”
Mount Pleasant fell to Pine Tree 4-1. Chandler Minze got the win, Michael Kopeck fanned 10 in a losing effort.
In other games, Hallsville beat Texas High, 2-1. Conner Reich fanned 12 batters.
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