|Wildcats heed coach's advice
Tatum's RBI caps seventh inning rally
|Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
March 5, 2004 -- Rahn Smith gathered his team near the third-base line midway through Tuesday night's game, and in a nutshell told his players he wasn't going to be a happy camper if it lost a game after leading by six runs. Sulphur Springs figured it would be wise to adhere to its coach's warning.
The SSHS pitchers struggled, and the team did fall behind because of it, but the offense came through in the clutch. Riley Tatum's RBI single through a drawn-in infield scored Casey McMahan for a 12-11 come-from-behind win over Mount Pleasant in the Wildcats' home opener at Eagle Stadium.
Tatum finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs, McMahan was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored while Logan Pogue finished 3-for-4 with an RBI. Pogue has hits in five of his last seven at-bats.
"Coach told us we better not lose this game, so we had to keep our heads up and play the way we're supposed to," Pogue said. "We proved our ability to come back after making some errors we shouldn't have that allowed them back in the game."
The Tigers chipped away at an early deficit, and their five-run fifth inning, aided by five walks, gave them an 11-7 lead.
Five straight Wildcats reached base in the bottom of the sixth, as Adam Peugh capped off a 3-for-4 night with a single, and McMahan reached on an infield hit. Pogue was hit by a pitch, and Josh Riley drove in two runs to draw SSHS to within 11-9. It could've been worse had Pogue not been called out trying to steal third due to batter interference.
The Wildcats got just what the doctor ordered in the seventh, as Zach Adair (2-0) retired the side in order, setting up the last-inning heroics. Zack Wilhite, who finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, got things started with a single, while leadoff hitter Sam Smith walked for the third time. Peugh reached on a bunt single, and Josh Rowland's throwing error allowed Wilhite to score. Smith added his third run of the night on McMahan's RBI single, Pogue doubled to right-center and Riley was intentionally walked to set up Tatum's game winner.
"I sat back on the pitch and shortened up my stroke a bit, because I knew he'd have to throw a strike with the bases loaded," Tatum said. "I swung as hard as I could and was looking for a fastball all the way. We had a good night at the plate, and I was happy to have a solid hit after my first two barely got out of the infield."
Mount Pleasant took an early lead in the first on Rowland's RBI double, but the Wildcats answered with two runs in the bottom half on a two-RBI single by Tatum, driving in McMahan and Pogue.
Jarred Beck and Wilhite had consecutive doubles to start the second, while three straight walks to Smith, Peugh and McMahan and an RBI single by Pogue plated four runs. McMahan drove in Smith an inning later with a ground out for a 7-1 lead.
"I was proud of the kids' ability to come back, but I was disappointed that we allowed them to get back in the game," Rahn Smith said. "We really don't have any set relievers, and they took advantage of our inability to throw strikes.
"Our hitting is coming around, as we're not striking out too much. We need to continue hitting the ball well with a tough tournament coming up in Kilgore."
Tiger designated hitter Chance Stansell walked and scored on an errant throw by SSHS starter Kevin Roberts. Justin Posey drove home Will Ferguson with a sacrifice fly, as MPHS trailed by only four.
Roberts allowed only three hits in the first four innings but began to falter with two out in the fifth. Tim Rainey led off with a double and scored on a Patrick Carr ground out. Rowland reached on an infield single, and Stansell drove a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall onto Houston Street, as the Tigers trailed only 7-6.
SSHS (3-2) plays Longview Pine Tree at 4 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the Kilgore Tournament and will play a second game at 8 p.m. Whillock and Adair are the scheduled starters.
Notes: An interesting situation occurred in the bottom of the sixth, as Pogue and Riley seemed to execute a double steal. Tatum was called for batter interference, and Pogue was ruled out. Riley had to go back to first, but not until Mount Pleasant's head coach made the fact aware to the home plate umpire, who was unsure of the rule.
Sulphur Springs JV 14, North Lamar 1
Sophomore Alex Aguilar threw a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts and had two hits to lead the Wildcats to their first win of the season.
SSHS pounded out 13 hits and only struck out twice, with the defense committing only one error. Bailey Potts had two of the team's seven doubles along with Aguilar, Scott Stewart, Josh Harrington, Chance Massey and Chris Ponder. Jake Brumley had two hits, while Kifter Davis and Blake Wells added one each.
Rockwall 8-10, Sulphur Springs 0-0
The Wildcats dropped their first two games of the season to Rockwall, one of the top tier programs in the state.
SSHS struggled both at the plate and in the field, managing only one hit in each game and striking out a total of 17 times. The defense had seven errors in the two games. Kyle Taylor had the lone hit in the first game, while Potts had a double in the second.