|Wildcats' faith rewarded with win over Denison|
|Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
April 14, 2004 -- Faith and confidence continue to be the motto for Sulphur Springs, as the Wildcats began the second half of district play on a quest to make the playoffs.
An 0-4 district start didn't necessarily bring along many passengers on the Wildcat train, but once Casey McMahan, Josh Riley and Kevin Roberts combined for a 5-4-3 double play to close out a 7-3 win over Denison Tuesday night, SSHS seems to be getting back on track.
Alex Aguilar threw a complete game three-hitter, with 12 strikeouts, two walks and only one earned run, while Sam Smith hit a two-out solo home run in the sixth for some much-needed insurance, as the Wildcats avenged a loss in the district opener.
"I had a really good first inning and ran into a bit of trouble with my fastball in the second and third," Aguilar said. "The rest of the game went pretty smoothly, and I was able to get my curveball over for strikes almost every time I threw it. We played pretty good defense with the exception of one inning, and as I said before, we felt the win over Paris was the turning point for us."
McMahan and Ryan Allison each added a two-RBI hit, while Smith finished 3-for-4, just a triple away from the cycle.
SSHS (9-12-1, 2-4 District 11-4A) wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the first inning, as Logan Pogue walked, Smith doubled over left fielder Joe Haley's head and McMahan drove them home with a single to right. McMahan scored on a passed ball for a 3-0 lead.
"We didn't get a lot of hits tonight, but the ones we did get were in the right situations," Wildcat head coach Rahn Smith said. "Our two-strike hitting was very good, and we've been able to hit the ball through the holes."
The Yellow Jackets (11-7, 3-3) took advantage of two errors in the second to plate a run. Aguilar struck out Matt Finke on a pitch in the dirt, but Kason Scroggins throw to first sailed over Kevin Roberts' head allowing Finke to slide into second. Scooter Means hit a grounder to the mound for what appeared to be a routine double play, but Aguilar's throw sailed over Pogue's head and allowed Finke to score.
The teams exchanged runs in the third. Wes Pool walked, stole second and scored on Jeremy Grimes' double to left. Smith dropped a routine fly to center that scored Grimes to tie the game 3-3.
"I was trying to find a hole to crawl into after dropping that ball," Sam Smith said. "I was so embarrassed, but it was good that they hit me another one, and I was determined to do something at the plate and help out any way I could."
SSHS could've hung its head but decided to get the runs back. Smith redeemed himself with a leadoff single to center, Casey McMahan walked and both runners advanced on Riley's sacrifice bunt. Ryan Allison drove a 1-2 pitch to center that put the Wildcats up 5-3 and knocked Pool out of the game.
Steven Sappelt walked and stole his first base of the season to lead off the sixth, advanced to third on Adam Peugh's bunt single and scored on Pogue's sacrifice fly to center. Peugh was caught stealing, and Smith took an 0-1 pitch over the center-field fence for his second homer of the season, both against Denison.
"I feel better batting in the third hole and am able to see more pitches," Sam Smith said. "I get a better idea of what they're throwing before I get out there when I'm not batting leadoff."
Aguilar had pinpoint control all night, throwing first pitch strikes. He established his curveball early and blew away Yellow Jacket hitters with his fastball. He threw 117 pitches, 82 for strikes, including fanning the side in the first inning.
"I kept calling for curveballs, because anytime we needed a strike, Alex seemed to get them over," Rahn Smith said. "He could've gotten flustered with the errors, but nothing bothered him.
"Alex threw strikes all night long and still had something left in him in the last inning. Whenever it was in doubt, he blew them away with his fastball and had a lot of good movement with his pitches."
SSHS hosts Sherman Friday night for another important district matchup.
Notes: Ryan Allison also stole his first base of the season for the Wildcats in the fifth...Sophomore Scott Stewart dressed out for his first taste of varsity action.