The Wildcats opened the District 13-4A baseball season with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Pine Tree Tuesday night.
But it was more of what the 'Cats didn't do than was the Pirates did, the coach said.
"I was a little bit worried coming in, the lack of preparation we had. We hadn't played in 10 days. We could tell we were not ready to play," Hammack admitted.
Pine Tree hurler Austin Oden got the win, throwing 6 1/3 innings and allowing just one run. He held Sulphur Springs hitless for the first five frames.
"Our approach at the plate was not good. Their pitcher (Oden) was average at best," Hammack said. "We were not buying into what we need to do. Pine Tree hit the ball like we try to teach, they pounded it gap-to-gap and we were pulling everything weak and swinging at pitches out of the zone. I thought we'd have a shot at winning the district championship. But we have a long way to go if that is still a possibility."
Colby Suggs got the loss, pitching seven innings allowing five hits, four runs, walking none and striking out four.
"I thought Suggs did all right. His curve ball got better during the game, at first it was up a little," the coach said. "He's still our ace, I believe we will win most times with him on the mound. It did not happen tonight, but I still have confidence in him. I have not evaluated his performance fully, I have to get with him and the catcher and see how well he was hitting the spots."
Pine Tree struck for the early lead with Garrett McMullen doubling home Brent McAfee to give the Pirates a 1-0 advantage in the first inning.
Suggs rebounded from a rough first inning to retire Pine Tree in order in the bottom of the second inning.
Sulphur Springs did not manage to hit the ball out of the infield in the third. Ben Barrows struckout followed by Jocko Spataro and Shane McQueen going down on infield ground outs.
In the bottom of the third, McAfee singled and later scored. The Pirates went up 2-0 when an errant throw to third allowed the run to score without a hit. A Pine Tree fly ball by Luke Wadley moved another runner into scoring position, but Suggs worked out of the jam getting McMullen to ground out to the shortstop.
The Pirates struck for two more runs in the fifth, the big blow a ringing double off the wall by McAfee.
In the top of the sixth, the Wildcats rallied long enough to get the goose egg off the scoreboard.
Spataro doubled off the left field fence. McQueen was retired on a ground out but the runner took third. Tripp Reeves hit a slow roller to second base that was turned into an out, but the run scored making it a 4-1 ball game. Suggs grounded out to end the threat.
The Wildcats tried to rally in the seventh. Kolton Jones grounded out. Jace Jackson reached on an error. But the Pirates ended the game with a double play to secure the 4-1 victory in the district opener.
The Wildcats, 0-1 in district, will return home to meet Longview Friday night.
"This is our home opener, we only have played at home for one scrimmage. We'd like to get a good crowd out and maybe we will play better," Hammack said.
The varsity game Friday with Longview is set for 7 p.m. at Eagle Stadium.
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