Wildcats get even with North Lamar
Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Feb. 27, 2004 -- MOUNT PLEASANT -- There was no intimidation whatsoever.

As a matter of fact, Sulphur Springs was hoping it would somehow have a chance at redeeming itself against North Lamar, and the schedule fell into place for the Wildcats.

Center fielder Sam Smith went 2-for-3, while Zach Adair pitched five solid innings to lead SSHS (2-1) past the Panthers 6-3 in six innings Friday afternoon in the second round of the Mount Pleasant Tournament.

The Wildcats won their second straight and were a different team than the one that lost to NLHS 10-0 in their opener. The situations seemed to be reversed, as it was the Panthers who committed three errors, and SSHS took advantage early.

Catcher Riley Tatum and third baseman Ryan Allison both reached on errors in the second inning, and designated hitter Colston Copeland cleared the bases with a two-RBI triple down the right field line. Copeland scored on a fielder's choice by Steven Sappelt.

Adair struck out the side in the bottom of the second, and the Wildcats added two more runs in the third. Smith singled and reached third when the center fielder let the ball roll in between his legs and beat the throw home on a grounder to short, while pinch runner Torey Mathies scored his second run of the game for a 5-0 lead.

"The pitching is usually ahead of the hitting at this point, but I think we're seeing the ball a lot better," Smith said. "Last night's win over Whitehouse was a confidence booster, and we were focused today."

NLHS (1-2) scored in its half of the third, as third baseman Josh Vandeburg coaxed a walk on a pitch that seemed to catch the plate. Adair had three free passes in the inning and struck out his fourth and fifth batters in a row.

"I struggled with my control and was a little wild," Adair said. "I thought I did all right, and the guys did a good job of getting some runs on the board early, and that helped me out and made things a bit easier. I'm glad we were able to get the win, and we want some more."

Shortstop Casey McMahan reached on an infield single, stole his third base of the season and scored on Allison's sacrifice fly to center. SSHS head coach Rahn Smith was pleased with his team's defensive play but said it got a bit too relaxed with the early lead and that the sixth inning shouldn't have been such a nail-biter.

"I felt we got in a little lull and were a bit too complacent once we got the early lead," Smith said. "We want to score every inning and keep pounding away, but we were able to get some runs early and have a little cushion.

"Zach had some muscle soreness in his arm, but he competed well and had a real good outing. He threw strikes and didn't let things get to him, and that's all I can ask. His changeup wasn't working too well, but he got his curveball over the plate."

Smith sent Adair out to start the sixth inning, but the junior didn't have any more left in the tank, surrendering a leadoff home run to Vandeburg and a single to Blake Little.

Senior Bobby Brown saw his first action on the mound and got the first two outs, while McMahan pitched to one batter and erased the potential tying run for his first save.

Adair (1-0) allowed three runs, all earned on only four hits with five walks and nine strikeouts. He threw 100 pitches, 57 for strikes.

Notes: Sulphur Springs recorded one of the more unique double plays in the fourth inning. Smith robbed shortstop Jerry Musick of a hit with a diving catch in short center. Cody Ramsey decided to take off for third and was eventually tagged out by Allison for a rare 8-4-1-6-5 double play.

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