By DON WALLACE
News-Telegram Sports Editor
After winning a 13-8 slugfest to open district, Sulphur Springs proved they could also win a tight contest, edging by Marshall 2-1 Friday in District 16-5A action.
The large Friday crowd at Eagle Stadium got a see a low-scoring, intense contest decided when all the runs were scored in the third inning.
Pitching and defense ruled the contest as the two district rivals stood toe-to-toe on the green diamond in game played in 88 minutes.
Even the umpiring crew wore green in the St. Patrick’s Day game.
"This was a well-pitched game by both sides," said Jerrod Hammack, Sulphur Springs head baseball coach. "It's just interesting we have this kind of game after winning a high-scoring game in Pine Tree. But we proved we could win a close one."
Hammack said, "We're 2-0 in district, I know we weren’t picked by anybody to finish in the top four like Marshall was., but I think we are force to be reckoned with, we have a lot of district left."
While the box score of the game might feature hits and strikeouts, perhaps the most important play was peg from Wildcat right fielder Jamal Hobson-Cox to cut down a Maverick runner at home plate.
"We almost cut that throw, but we let it come all the way in," Hammack said. "He (Hobson-Cox) was playing in, I thought at first he had a chance to catch the ball in the air, but he got the bounce and threw a perfect one-hop throw to home plate. He has a good arm and he showed on that big play."
Triston McCormick struck out four and surrendering one run and allowed eight hits. McCormick hit one batter, but issued no walks as he was able to throw a complete game and post a win on just 77 pitches. McCormick also had a key sacrifice fly to plate a run.
Hammack said, "McCormick was pitching well on the outside part of the plate and keeping the ball down. He has pitched well lately against McKinney, Whitehouse and other teams. To get a win like this against Marshall, in a game where we had no margin for error, is big. Marshall swings the bats well and he kept them to one run. That's great for us."
Losing pitcher Trevor Clark of Marshall went six full innings and was pulled in favor of Hunter Neal late in the game. Clark gave up both runs, walked six, allowed three hits and fanned seven.
In the first inning, the visitors got a base runner when catcher Cam Haller was hit by a McCormick pitch on his stocky shoulders. McCormick got the next two batters to fly out to centerfield.
Mason Buck started the game off for the Wildcats by hammering a hard shot to second base and he reached base ahead of the throw to first. Catcher Kaden Argenbright singled to right field to give the Wildcats two base runners. Clark worked out of the jam retiring Heston Golightly, McCormick and Ryan Humphries on strikes. Sulphur Springs leaving two base runners stranded.
McCormick was in a groove in the top of the second, sitting Marshall batters down in order in just three minutes. The key play was a nice running catch by Buck near the fence in the left/centerfield gap on a deep shot off the bat of Sam Jones.
In the top of the third, Marshall struck for what would be their lone run of the game.
Here's how it happened.
Cade Bickerdale singled and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Neal. Jake McMullen singled with the ball bouncing high into the air when it struck the corner of the second base bag for a RBI hit. Haller was retired on a fly ball to center and Clark went down swinging.
The Wildcats seemed determined at the dish in the third, Hammack talking to the team in between frames about the importance of plate discipline and swinging at good pitches.
With one out Buck drew a walk and then stole second. Argenbright and Golightly also got on base via the walk to juice the sacks. McCormick then pounded a medium deep fly ball to left field for a sacrifice fly which knocked in a run and the game was tied at 1-all. Humphries knocked in a run the second tally of the contest scored before a Wildcat runner was tagged out between second and third.
Sulphur Springs now had a 2-1 lead as action shifted to the fourth frame.
McCormick was dealing with the heart of the Mavs' lineup retired in order on three fly ball outs on nine pitches.
All was quiet at the plate until the sixth.
Haller went down on strikes. Clark and Nathan Hicks reached on ground ball singles to the outfield. Kolton Roberson struck window shopping called out on a McCormick strike. With two outs Ty Kirkland singled to shallow right field, Hobson-Cox came up throwing and gunned down Marshall's runner at home plate to keep the score at 2-1.
In the bottom of the sixth, Golightly walked on five pitches. Clark started off McCormick off with two pitches out of the strike zone and then was replaced on the hill by Neal.
Neal got the three outs of the sixth on two pop flies and a strikeout.
Marshall had one last chance as they came to the plate in the top of the seventh.
Jones hit a chopper to deep shortstop and beat the throw to the first base bag. Bickerdale popped out to right. Neal singled to give the Marshall squad two runners on base, just trailing by a lone run. McCormick dug deep and struck out McMullen.
Then it came down to the last out against Haller, the highly-touted player who has signed to play at Texas A&M University. McCormick retired Haller on a harmless 2-0 foul ball pop out to first base.
The Wildcats hung on to take the 2-1 win to go 2-0 in district, 9-5-1 overall. Marshall fell to 10-7, 0-2.
"This team keeps finding ways to win," Hammack said with a grin. "They play well together and get the job done. We did it with pitching and defense along with a few key hits."
Hammack said, “We had a good crowd, we really appreciate the support.”
The Wildcats are playing their final season at Eagle Stadium with a new field being built near the track/soccer complex.
In junior varsity action, Sulphur Springs lost 10-9 with the Royal blue team falling to Marshall despite holding a large lead early.
"Colten Allen had a homer, Austin Dodd had a three-run triple," said coach Cameron Warren. "Jace Burchfield pitched five strong innings. Pacen Edwards got the pitching loss, Allen also pitched. We had a lead of 9-2 at one point, but we could not hold it. We played well early in the game."
The Sulphur Springs Gold team won 6-3 in afternoon action at Marshall.
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