|Whillock pitches Cats past Raiders|
|Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
March 12, 2004 -- Good things come to those who wait, and Ben Whillock found that out firsthand Tuesday night.
The junior transfer from Miller Grove had his best control of the season, striking out 11 Winnsboro batters, while the Sulphur Springs offense came to life late in the game to take a 7-1 win over the Red Raiders at Eagle Stadium.
Sam Smith and Adam Peugh each went 2-for-3, while Josh Riley was 2-for-4 with a double. SSHS head coach Rahn Smith is looking for more production early in the game from his offense but was more than pleased with Whillock's outing.
"Ben is a typical left-handed pitcher," Smith said. "He doesn't throw the ball tremendously hard, but he's learning how to hit his spots and was throwing his breaking balls over the plate. He's one of our top pitchers, and we're going to depend on him.
"We were toothless bulldogs at the plate the first five innings. We've had a problem all year getting guys in, but their pitcher did a good job of throwing strikes, so you've got to give him credit."
Kord Chapman matched Whillock pitch for pitch in the battle of southpaws, striking out 10, before running into trouble in the fifth inning. His defense didn't help his cause.
Smith and Peugh reached base with a single and a walk respectively and completed a double steal to put two SSHS runners in scoring position. Casey McMahan laced a 1-2 pitch into right field for a two-RBI hit and reached second on an error. WHS shortstop Luke Nichols let a Logan Pogue grounder go between his legs, allowing McMahan to score for a 3-0 Wildcat lead.
"We got people on base eventually but should have put them away earlier," Sam Smith said. "We hope this win will allow us to get something going, and we know the success will come if we can continue to hit the ball and not make a bunch of errors.
"Ben pitched a good game tonight. He threw a lot of strikes and didn't walk too many batters. It took the pressure off of the rest of us."
Winnsboro's Doak Fleming drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, while Nichols got a small measure of revenge by breaking up Whillock's no-hit bid with a double to the left-field corner. Fleming scored from first, after Peugh had trouble picking up the ball.
SSHS (5-5) answered in its half of the inning, sending all nine batters to the plate. Jarred Beck reached second on the Raiders' third error of the night. Steven Sappelt and Smith drew back-to-back walks, and Peugh drove Beck home with an RBI single to left. Sappelt scored on a wild pitch, while Riley doubled down the first-base line to score Smith and Peugh.
"I was pleased with the way the guys answered after Winnsboro scored," Rahn Smith said. "We've had a few games where we didn't put the other team away and allowed them to come back. It was nice to have a couple of big innings and put some runs on the board."
Zach Adair retired three of four batters in the seventh to preserve the win.
Whillock pitched around two walks in the first inning, retired the side in order in the second and struck out the side in the third. He fanned two more Winnsboro batters in the fourth, but his no-hit bid seemed to be over an inning later.
Josh Warren lined a 2-0 pitch up the middle, but Riley backhanded the ball, set his feet and threw a strike to first baseman Colston Copeland to keep the no-hitter alive. Whillock helped his own cause by making a diving stop of an infield flare to end the fifth inning. He struck out eight of 13 batters at one point, and his 11 strikouts were a season high.
"My curveball was all right but got away from me at times," Whillock said. "My slider was working better tonight than it has all year long.
"It feels good to come over from a 1A school and be able to contribute. "I only had two or three wins all of last year, so getting my first win at a 4A school certainly gives me confidence as we get closer to starting district."
Whillock (1-1) has shown signs of patience after throwing a gem in his first start Feb. 26 against Whitehouse in the Mount Pleasant Tournament. He allowed just one run (unearned) on two outfield errors in the first inning and struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings of work but didn't get the win, as the offense sputtered and had to score three in the seventh for a come-from-behind victory.
The second start for Whillock came March 5 against 5A powerhouse Rockwall in the Kilgore Tournament. He was forced to take his lumps, as his control was nowhere near what it was Tuesday night. He allowed nine batters via walk or hit batsmen. Whillock's earned run average in his non-Rockwall starts is a perfect 0.00 to go along with 20 strikeouts. He averages seven strikeouts per outing.