It was a game decided by a lone hit.One swing of an aluminum bat on a cool night at Eagle Stadium sent the home town Sulphur Springs Wildcats down in defeat 3-2 to Hallsville in a District 13-4A nail-biter.
Hallsville's Aaron Reich broke open a 1-all game with a two out, full count double to center field to plate two runs and give Hallsville a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning.
The Wildcats went down in order with Bobcat starting pitcher Trevor Petersen using 16 pitches to get two strikeouts along with an infield grounder in the sixth inning.
Sulphur Springs would not quit and went back to work on a comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Leadoff batter Jace Jackson connected for a solid hit to center field the ball scooted by the fielder allowing the all-district football receiver to use his speed to motor all the way to third with no outs. Connor Brackhahn came off the bench, and worked the court full of Petersen, but went down on strikes as did right fielder Ben Barrows. Jackson managed to score on a wild pitch to make it a 3-2 game. Jocko Spataro singled to left field to keep hope alive with two outs. The game ended with Shane McQueen grounding out to the shortstop as the Bobcats dodged a bullet and held on for the 3-2 win.
Petersen pitched a complete game allowing four hits, striking out two, walking one and allowing two runs.
Sulphur Springs started Jake “The Snake” Dougan went six innings, striking out 10, allowing five hits, three runs, walking five and hitting two batters with pitches. Colby Suggs pitched one inning of relief, throwing 17 pitches, getting two strike out and allowing one hit.
Another key to the game was the seven base runners the Wildcats left stranded on the bases.
"We still are not getting the key hit when we need it, with two outs and people on base," Sulphur Springs head baseball coach Jerrod Hammack said. "We're battling, we had a good effort. But Hallsville got the big hit and we didn't."
The coach continued, "Their big hit came by the No. 9 hole hitter with two outs on a full count. In that situation you would probably play the odds and let him hit. But he came through for them. I thought Dougan battled and did a good job on the mound. He had several strikeouts and worked out of some trouble."
The game was scoreless early, a pitcher's duel with neither team able to push across a run in the first three innings.
In the top of the fourth, a line drive single followed by a walk gave the Bobcats two runners to work with on the bases. Cashe Jones was on the money with a bunt hit to the third baseman which allowed the first run of the game to score. Dougan dug deep and got the next two batters on strikes to end the threat.
Sulphur Springs went to work in the top of the fourth with a rally of their own. Tripp Reeves singled to reach base, smoking a pitch to the outfield. Suggs worked the count, slapping three fouls before coaxing a walk on the ninth pitch. Jones laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. On the first pitch to Mason Rawson, the slugger hit a sharp ground ball to the shortstop, the fielder opted to come home with his throw, but Reeves beat the call and tied the game at 1-all. The lone run was only run the Wildcats would manage as Jackson and Dougan went down on strikes. Sulphur Springs had made Petersen work as he threw 24 pitches in the frame, his most of any inning in the game.
The visiting Bobcats got two runs in the sixth to jump ahead 3-1. Sulphur Springs came back for a lone run in the seventh, but the comeback fell short.
The 3-2 loss dropped the Wildcats to 2-4 in district play at the end of the first round.
"We're due some breaks in the second half," Hammack said with a grin. "I always talk about playing the percentages and things will even out. We should get some breaks in the second half, I think our best ball is ahead of us."
Hallsville, a team ranked as high as No. 5 in the state, advanced their district record to 5-1 in district and 18-1 mark on the season.
Sulphur Springs host Pine Tree at 7 p.m. Thursday.
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