Astros fifth at USSSA World Series
From Staff Reports

August 7, 2004 - KISSIMMEE, Fla. - After nine games and 60 innings, the Sulphur Springs Astros, a 16-and-under select team, finished fifth in a field of the 36 best teams in the United States and Puerto Rico at the USSSA World Series National Championship.

The Astros had wins over teams from Michigan, Florida, Illinois and Texas. The Astros also beat the Puerto Rico team, 15-0, with Shawn Hayes pitching a no-hitter.

In the winners' bracket, the Astros defeated the Aurora (Ill.) Mavericks, 7-5, with Cameron Bara picking up the win on the mound, and Taylor Carter getting the save. Landon May led the team at the plate with two hits and two runs scored.

The Astros then beat the Michigan Outlaws, 7-5. The Outlaws were ranked third in the nation and were unbeaten in USSSA this year. Chase Helm led off the scoring by hitting a two-run homer in the second inning. Pitcher Alex Aguilar got the win with Hayes picking up the save. Casey McMahan knocked in three runs and Josh Riley collected three hits.

Sulphur Springs lost its first bracket game, 3-1, to the Virginia Pilots with Cody Withers pitching six innings of shutout ball.

The Astros' next game was against state rival, Grapevine A's. The locals held on to win, 4-3. Carter pitched a complete game with Hayes and Helm knocking in the winning runs.

The Jacksonville (Fla.) Storm was next for the Astros. The Storm had beaten the No. 1 seeded Maryland Orioles earlier. In a back-and-forth game, the Astros found themselves trailing, 3-2, in the bottom of the seventh. Tyler Rhoades worked the count and then lined a base hit to left field. Riley capped off his 4-for-4 performance by launching a walk-off two-run homer to left, giving the Astros a 4-3 win. Hayes pitched a complete game for the win.

In the Friday evening contest, the Astros faced the Osceola Pirates from central Florida. In a great pitching duel between Aguilar and the Pirates' C.J. Woods, the locals fell short by a 2-1 score.

"Our success was a complete team effort," said coach Charles Helm. "We had the talent to win it all, but you have to have a little luck, also. Every player contributed, including those not already mentioned."

He added, "Trey Neighbors caught every inning in the tournament and was outstanding. Jayden Spencer played in every game and was a great lead-off threat. Josh was super at second, as was Casey at short, Tyler at third and Chase at first. Our outfielders made great plays the whole tournament and consisted of Jayden, Landon, Alex and Shawn.

"Brad Payne's clutch hitting and Seth Northcutt's designated base running were invaluable. Our pitching staff of Alex, Taylor, Shawn, Cody and Cameron gave up a little over two runs a game.

Riley and Aguilar were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Astros are coached by Helm, Steve Littlefield and Cory Horton.

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