The Lions, who won at home Thursday 2-1 in eight innings in Game 1, and took the best-of-three series and advanced in the playoffs. The Wildcats never seemed to get in gear in either game, ending the year with just five hits and one run in 15 innings of postseason play against the upstart Lions.
Playing at home Friday did not invigorate the Wildcats, despite a large crowd at the baseball field which overflowed into Gerald Prim Stadium.
Weldon Davis got the complete game pitching win for Henderson. The lanky right-hander struck out nine, limited the Wildcats to two hits and walked two in seven innings of work. Davis is 4-0 for the year.
Losing pitcher for Sulphur Springs was Jake Dougan. Dougan, who was seeing his first action in several weeks, pitched five innings and allowed three runs off nine hits, before giving way to reliever Mason Rawson. Rawson gave up one run hurling the final two frames.
The Wildcats were unable to string hits together for a rally and only had six baserunners in the game.
"We picked a bad time for our bats to be anemic," said Sulphur Springs head baseball coach Jerrod Hammack. "We scored eight runs against Hallsville late in the year and then we come back and get one run in two games against Henderson? I thought we were swinging the bat better than this, but I guess not. Bat discipline has not been a strong point of this team all year. Their pitchermixed up some curves and offspeed pitches, but he wasn't overwhelming. We swung at the bad pitches and took the good ones for strikes. We just swung at too many pitches out of the zone. Henderson, give them credit, they got the hits they needed. They made us pay for some bad placement on our pitches. Dougan had been off for a few weeks, he was out of his comfort zone, but he battled."
The Lions opened the game with a run in the first inning. Dougan walked three of the first batters he faced to load the sacks. Then Eric Grace was hit by a pitch with a run scoring, the Wildcats were down 1-0. Dougan recovered to fan the final two batters in the first inning and keep the damage to just 1-0.
Neither team scored until the top of the fifth. The Lions erupted for a pair of runs, putting together a rally with a single and two run-scoring doubles to the outfield. Henderson had a 3-0 lead and the Sulphur Springs hitters were still unable to do much against Davis.
Rawson came in to pitch for Sulphur Springs and allowed a bloop single to right field and a slow roller to give the Lions two base runners. Free singled home a run to make it 4-0. Rawson got the middle of the order to go down on a pop fly and a strikeout.
The bottom of the sixth saw the Wildcats get a glimpse of hope with sophomore Tripp Reeves belting a one-out single to left field. But Colby Suggs was retired on a ground out and Kolton Jones fanned with the runner in scoring position as the threat went up in smoke.
In the bottom of the seventh, Rawson was hit by a pitch to reach base. But Davis finished strong retiring Jackson, Austin Garrison and Ben Barrows on strikes to close the door and win the game 4-0.
The season ended for the Wildcats with a 12-11 record. Henderson at 20-7-1 advanced in the playoffs.
The Wildcats were 6-6 in district play, earning a fourth place playoff position. The Lions were co-champions of 14-4A, but advanced as the No. 1 seed due to wins over No. 2 team Whitehouse.
"When I think back on this year, I have good memories," Hammack said. "I remember a team which was 2-4 after the first half of district and we came back, after everyone had written us off and we won the games we needed to win to make the playoffs. We battled tough, I am disappointed our year ends like this. We did not get the job done in the
two games against Henderson. But I am really proud of this team and how we fought back during the year. We had things to overcome and we did it. We are in a tough district. We just came up short against Henderson."
Seniors playing their final game for Sulphur Springs were: Ben Barrows, Mason Rawson, Kolton Jones, Jace Jackson, Grayson North, Austin Brewer and Cedrick Finney.
Game 2 linescore
Henderson 100-021-0 4-8-1
Sulphur Springs 000-000-0 0-2-0
W-Weldon Davis (4-0);L - Jake Dougan (4-2); 2B-Reeves, Gossett,Chambless
Season ends for Sulphur Springs, 12-11.
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