What started as a friendly non-district baseball game, turned into a spirited marathon battle Saturday afternoon.
The visiting McKinney North Bulldogs left with a 7-6 win in a 10-inning affair which lasted almost three and a half hours at Eagle Stadium.
“We were able to get some role guys playing time and I thought they played well. We did get several of our pitchers some work and I thought we competed hard as a team. However, we did have the opportunity to close the deal in the seventh and we came up short again.We have got to finish teams off when we have the chance,” said Sulphur Springs head baseball coach Jerrod Hammack.
McKinney North’s Ty Crump crushed a Kolton Jones pitch for a homer in the top of the 10th inning to break the 6-all tie and claim the the 7-6 win for the Bulldogs.
But the long game was not without drama, questionable calls and unusual plays.
Sulphur Springs also went deep, with Jace Jackson and Jake (the Snake) Dougan belting solo homers.
Sulphur Springs at one point had a 5-1 lead only to see the Bulldogs chip away at the lead and force extra innings.
In the top of the sixth, Sulphur Springs appeared to be cruising holding a 6-3 lead. But McKinney North got a rally going with a single and a walk. Following a double steal, Chris Carpenter came to bat with two runners in scoring position. Carpenter's ground out to the shortstop led to a force out, but a run scored to make it a 6-4 game. The Bulldogs picked up another run off a sacrifice fly to slice the lead to 6-5 as action shifted to the bottom of the seventh.
Sulphur Springs was unable to pad the lead with sluggers Dougan, Mason Rawson and Jackson retired in order.
In the bottom of the seventh, a leadoff single allowed McKinney North a base runner and soon the player had company as the next batter Ryan Shuler later reached on an infield hit. The bad luck continued for the Wildcats as the sacks became loaded as Jones hit the next batter with a pitch. Sulphur Springs brought the infield in and caught a bunt attempt in the air with Jones fielding the ball and tossing to third for a double play.
McKinney North would not surrender and got a walk to juice the sacks, putting more ducks on the pond. Crump was working the count and a Jones pitch scooted past catcher Jocko Spataro to allow the visitors a run which tied the game. Jones got Crump out on strikes and Sulphur Springs still had a chance to rally with the contest deadlocked at 6-all.
The bottom of the seventh was not kind to the home team as they could not get the ball out of the infield and the game was sent to extra frames.
In the top of the ninth, McKinney North tried a two out squeeze play to bunt in the tying run, but third baseman Tripp Reeves' throw nipped the runner at third for the final out. McKinney North coaches argued the call, but the game rocked on.
In the bottom of the ninth, after Dougan struck out, the Wildcats got new life when Jones belted a double to deep centerfield. Jackson drew a walk to provide more hope and two base runners for the home team and just one out. Spataro hit the ball in the worst possible place for the Wildcats. His smash down the third base line was snared by Kendall Ladd who stepped on third for a force out and rifled a shot to first to complete the double play and kill the possible rally.
McKinney got the homer in the 10th to claim the lead and went on to win the lengthy bout, 7-6.
In the early going, the Bulldogs got baserunners in the opening frame off starter Dougan. But he was able to work out of the jam with no runs scoring, but he had to throw more than 25 pitches.
In the bottom of the first, it appeared Sulphur Springs would jump ahead. Shane McQueen forced the count and slammed the 3-2 offering to center field for a double. Dougan followed with a walk. Rawson grounded out and the threat disappeared.
In the top of the second, McKinney North proved they were gutsy enough to do anything to get a run, including stealing home. The theft by Shuler gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
The score was quickly tied when Jackson opened the bottom of the second depositing the fifth pitch of the inning over the center field fence. The homer run gave the Wildcats a boost and tied the game at 1-all.
The contest remained deadlocked until the bottom of the third when the Wildcats went back into action. McQueen drew a one-out walk, but was picked off as he strayed too far from first base. Dougan followed with a first pitch round tripper, the homer cleared the left field fence near Houston Street and he was greeted a home plate by his teammates as Sulphur Springs had a 2-1 edge. Rawson drew a walk. Jackson pounded a pitch deep to right centerfield and appeared headed for a homer or at least a gapper for extra bases. The McKinney North outfielder ran down the blast and ended the inning and the uprising.
The Sulphur Springs bats did not cool down as the Wildcats struck for three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Spataro coaxed a walk, courtesy runner Cedric Finney was inserted to run. Finney was erased from the bases as he tried to steal second. Mason Morton was walked on four pitches. Grayson North fanned for the second out of the inning. Connor Brackhahn was walked chasing starter Conrad Ranquist from the mound,
Reeves was walked and during the at-bat, Morton scored from third as the Wildcats executed a running play for second that freed Morton up to race home when the throw was late to the dish. With the bases loaded Dougan was walked, forcing in a run to make it 4-1. The final round of the rally came when Rawson singled to right field on a 2-2 pitch to give the home team a 5-1 lead.
The McKinney North team rallied for six runs in the final five innings.
Sulphur Springs had seven hits, scoring six runs and drew a dozen walks in the game. Reeves, Dougan, Rawson and Jackson each had one one hit and one RBI. Jones and McQueen had doubles.
On the mound, Dougan was the starter allowing one run off one hit, three walks, one hit batter and striking out three; Rawson walked three, allowed four runs off five hits and struck out two; Jones finished the game with two runs allowed, from three hits, one walk, one hit batter and one strikeout.
In the junior varsity game, Sulphur Springs took a 4-2 win. The offensive highlight was a solo homer by Chris Carns. Jose Martinez started the game on the hill with relief help from Dallin Sant.
The Sulphur Springs freshmen play at Hallsville at 4 p.m. followed by the JV at 7 p.m.
The varsity Wildcats host Hallsville Tuesday at 7 p.m.
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