LINDALE — For second straight game Sulphur Springs could not put together a rally when they needed one.
The result was a 8-3 lost Saturday to Whitehouse in the second and decided game in the Class 4A area baseball playoffs at Lindale High School.
The boisterous crowd on the sun-slashed afternoon got to see a game with hits runs and errors and even a couple of ejections. When the dust cleared on the half turf field it was the Wildcats of Whitehouse taking the win. They take a 25-8 record to the next round of the playoffs.
For the Wildcats of Sulphur Springs the season ends with a 20-11-1 mark. The end came too quickly for Sulphur Springs head coach Jerrod Hammack.
"I thought this team had the talent to make it to another round. But we could not get the hits to put together a rally to get enough hits to win," Hammack said. "This is a special group. I think we did what we could. Give Whitehouse the credit, they got the hits and their pitchers kept us off the bases."
The bulk of the scoring for both teams came in the first three innings. Neither team scored in the fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh frames. Teams had chances but no Wildcats either in maroon or white crossed the dish.
Jenner Jackson (9-2) took the pitching loss for Sulphur Springs battling through five innings with a hip injury. The 6-2 senior gave up eight runs, eight hits, five walks, hitting two batters, striking out three. Cole Hill pitched the rest of the game in relief.
Ryan Cheatham got the complete game pitching win for Whitehouse. Cheatham gave up three runs in the first three frame and did not allow a run from that point. He allowed four hits, fanning three and walking two for Whitehouse.
For second game in the last four playoff games, Sulphur Springs struck to take an early lead. Alex Burney opened the game reaching on an error. Jordan Jackson popped out to the outfield. Hill singled to center and the blue and gold Wildcats had runners at first and second with one out. Jenner Jackson reached on a fielding error by the shortstop Patrick Mahomes to load the sacks. Kason Matthews pounded a sacrifice fly ball to left field, Burney scored to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Larry Pryor beat out an infield hit with another run scoring and Sulphur Springs was up 2-0. Willy Ivery flied out to center field to end the threat, but Sulphur Springs had early momentum with the quick advantage.
Jenner Jackson immediately was in a jam as the first two batters for Whitehouse reaching on a walk and hit batter. A wild pitch moved runners to second and third. Aaron Clemons got a two-run single to plate two runs and tie the game. Whitehouse got two more runs off an error, single and a fielder's choice to go ahead 4-2 after one full frame.
Sulphur Springs had something working in the top of the second with two outs. Burney walked and Jordan Jackson laid down a bunt which could not be fielded. With runners at first and second, Hill made good contact, but the ball was caught in right field to end the potential rally.
Whitehouse sent seven batters to plate, scoring three times as they went up 7-2 with action moving to the top of the third.of fielder Jared Raabe allowing him to reach on the miscue. Pryor and the Whitehouse first baseman had a brief exchange at the bag. The umpire ejected Pryor from the game for the play. Hammack came out to voice his opinion on the play. After a long and animated discussion, Hammack was ejected. Some fans at the game were also sent packing by the home plate umpire. Ben Brooks, the third baseman Pryor was designated hitting for, was inserted to run at first as action resumed after a short delay.
Hammack said, “None of the people on the field or in the stands who got ejected deserved it. I did not say anything to get ejected, It was unwarranted. It’s a shame it had to happen. Games are not supposed to be called like that, especially in the playoffs. It was frustrating to me and a real unfortunate incident.”
“Larry (Pryor) did not deserve to be ejected. He’s a mild-mannered kid,” Hammack said. “The other kid stomped his foot and he was just defending himself. I can truly sleep well knowing that the people who got ejected, did not deserve it.”
Sulphur Springs got a run on a wild pitch to cut the Whitehouse lead to 7-3. Ivery grounded out.
In the bottom of the third, Whitehouse strung together two bases hit. Aided by a wild pick off throw to third, the maroon Wildcat scored to pad their lead to 8-3. Neither team at that time knew that run would be the last of the game. But it was.
In the top of the seventh, the final frame this season for Sulphur Springs, three batters went down in order.
Whitehouse celebrated the 8-3 win, which coupled with the 7-5 victory the night before gave the team the area title.
Sulphur Springs, third place in District 14-4A baseball race, ended the year as bi-district champions and area runners-up.
"Typically we hit the ball better than this. But we kept battling, I am proud of our effort," Hammack said. "We just couldn't get the big hit. We felt like coming into the second game, if we could win it we could turn the series around. But we didn't do it."
Hammack said, "Jenner was battling a hip injury. He gave it everything he had, he put the team ahead of himself. He was hurting, he gave us a gutsy effort. I have nothing but high praise for his performance and the whole team. We gave our best effort. It's just always sad when a season ends. You never get this exact combination of players again. We might have some coming back, but not this group. They were very fun to coach, I hate to see the year end. It just wasn't meant to be for us to win and continue in the playoffs."
Seniors for the team include: Jenner Jackson, Jordan Jackson, Cole Hill, Cabo Sanvig, Kason Matthews and Zach Miller.
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