Home cooking was just what the Wildcats needed to take a 3-2 win over Mount Pleasant Tuesday night.
Sulphur Springs used 15 strikeouts by senior hurler Jenner Jackson to stew the visiting Tigers in a well-played District 14-4A contest.
"I did not tell the players this before the game, but I considered this game a must win," admitted Jerrod Hammack, Sulphur Springs head baseball coach. "We needed this win and we got it. The win puts us at 3-3 in district, even with Hallsville and right back in the race. Playing at home always seems to help this group."
The win was the sixth victory in a row at the friendly confines of Eagle Stadium.
The Wildcats are now 14-8-1, 3-3 in district; Mount Pleasant is 13-9, 3-3.
"Ah, the comforts of home," Hammack said with a wry smile.
The recipe for the victory for the Wildcats was the long ball and the change-up. Cole Hill and Jenner Jackson belted homers to account for all three runs. Jenner Jackson was the rest of the story on the mound.
Jackson struck out 15 batters, of those outs nine were swinging and six were caught looking and took a third strike while window shopping. He struck out every starter in the Mount Pleasant line- up at least once. Six batters for the Tigers fanned twice each. The only hits of the night were singles which produced lone runs in the first and fifth innings. He threw 101 pitches on the night.
"Jenner had all three pitches working. He has a good change-up, fastball and curve. When you can control those pitches, it is hard on the other team. Mount Pleasant is a quality ball club," Hammack said. "He had good control and we played defense behind him for the most part."
What was the key to Jackson's success was the 75 mph change-up which often followed his 88 mph fastball.
"My change was the strike out pitch for me," Jackson said. "I got tired, but I probably could have gone another inning.
For the game Hammack gave up two runs off two hits, walked three in the complete game win.
The hard-luck loser was Mount Pleasant pitcher Ryan Kelly who also pitched a complete game. Kelly gave up three runs, surrendered five hits and walked four.
Brennan Brock had two infield hits and Zach Miller also singled for the Wildcats.
The teams scored three of the five runs total in the opening frame.
The Wildcats got two quick outs in the top of the first inning. T.K. Koontz reached on an error and was able to advance all the way to second on the errant throw. The next hitter up, Jordan Ramey ripped a shot down the line which went off third baseman Ben Brooks' glove and Koontz scooted home giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Michael Kopech was caught looking and retired on strikes to end the threat. But the Wildcats were behind 1-0 as fans settled into the stands.
Alex Burney, recently moved to leadoff, did what good leadoff hitters do, he drew a walk to start the bottom of the first. Jordan Jackson flied out to left field. Cole Hill found a 2-0 pitch to his liking and he deposited the ball over the left field fence for a two-run homer. The score was now 2-1 with the home team holding the lead. Kelly regrouped to work out of the jam without any more scoring.
Jackson started to get in a groove on the mound retiring the Tigers in order in the top of the sixth with two strikeouts and a fly ball to the outfield. Sulphur Springs got two runners on base in the bottom of the second, but were unable to get the key hit to score.
The Wildcats were able to pad their lead in the bottom of the third. With one out, Jenner Jackson clubbed a line drive homer to Houston Street as the Sulphur Springs lead went to 3-1. The lone run was all the Wildcats could manage and action moved to the top of the fourth. Jackson had perhaps his most impressive frame of the night, striking out the heart of the Tigers line up Koontz, Ramey and Kopech in order.
The visitors scratched across a run in the top of the fifth with Luke Hill able to plate Rogers who had reached on a walk. The Wildcats had little room for error as their lead was sliced to 3-2.
Kelly battled back for Mount Pleasant, striking out two in the fifth as the Tigers stayed within reach.
Jackson closed the door striking out striking out six of the final nine batters to claim the 3-2 victory.
In junior varsity action, Sulphur Springs won 9-2 on the road with Dillon Carpenter the winning pitcher. Carpenter went 6 2/3 innings and had two RBIs. Hunter Coleman closed the game out in relief. Ryan Ferguson was 2 for 3 including a homer with five runs batted in.
The ninth grade Wildcats won 16-0 at Mount Pleasant. Kaden Moore got the pitching win, hurling all five innings.
Coach Bruce Silman said, “It was a good team effort with all players contributing toward the victory. We all hit the ball well and made plays in the field when needed.”
Sulphur Springs will play Friday against Texas High as district action continues.
The JV will host Texas High at 4:30 p.m. Friday followed by the ninth grade game at 7 p.m.
The Sulphur Springs varsity will play in Texarkana, taking on Texas High at 7 p.m.
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