Good beginning turns sour for Cats
Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer

March 27, 2004 -- DENISON -- What began as a perfect start for Sulphur Springs turned into nothing but a sour ending during Friday night's district opener against Denison.

Sam Smith led off the game with an opposite field home run, but Yellow Jacket pitcher Dillon Carter helped his own cause with four RBIs, as the Yellow Jackets answered with four runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth to take a 6-1 win.

The Wildcats (7-9-1, 0-1 District 11-4A) have lost three straight district games to DHS dating back to last year and must now regroup and focus on Tuesday night's game at Sherman. The Bearcats fell 11-1 at McKinney North.

SSHS played well defensively, playing an error-free game, but Smith's home run seemed to be more of a detriment to the team than a positive. Not that head coach Rahn Smith didn't want the run, but he felt it caused the team to relax at an inopportune time.

"I think the guys got overconfident with the way the game started," Rahn Smith said. "We struck out too much and didn't make any adjustments at the plate. You can't win with only two hits, and when you don't produce at the plate, there's no chance to score runs.

"We did a good job on defense, but they did a good job of moving runners and put pressure on our guys. They had timely hitting with runners in scoring position and had a lot of bloop hits, but that's what it took for them to get the job done."

DHS (9-4, 1-0) matched its victory total of last season and beat the Wildcats at their own game by playing small ball and used it to perfection in the fourth against senior Kevin Roberts (2-2). Chad Price reached on an infield hit, and Wes Pool followed with a single to left. Carter drove home both runners in with a double to left-center. AJ Hayth reached on another infield single, as he was called safe even though a diving Roberts seemed to have beaten him to the bag.

Two pitches later, Carter started running from third and scored on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Jeremy Kimbrell. It was one of four sacrifices on the night for the Yellow Jackets, and the play caught SSHS totally off guard. Roberts said he thought the non-call on the previous batter was what hurt the most.

"The play at first base was the turning point in the game as far as I'm concerned," Roberts said. "The squeeze play might never have happened had we gotten that out.

"They hit the ball through the hole and caught up to my change-up. You've got to give them credit, because their offense came alive, and they seemed to want it more than we did."

Matt Finke capped the Yellow Jacket scoring in the fourth with an RBI single up the middle. Price reached on his second infield hit in as many innings in the fifth, while Pool walked and Carter drove them home with his second two-RBI hit of the night, chasing Roberts in the process.

"We felt we were going to get to their pitcher eventually," DHS head coach Charlie Means said. "We got some guys on base and were able to put together two back-to-back innings. The kids got patient at the plate and stuck to our game plan. Tonight was fun to coach."

Smith drove a 3-1 pitch from Carter over the right field wall in the first, but the Wildcats were unable to build any momentum. Carter retired 17 of the next 19 batters before Casey McMahan's double to short right field in the sixth. The lefty walked two and struck out eight.

"It doesn't matter what I did, because you can't win games with two hits," Sam Smith said. "They had a few dinkers fall in, but we've got to step up and start hitting the ball."

Roberts got nine of 11 batters out in the first three innings and retired the side in order in both the second and third before running into trouble in the fourth. He walked three, two in the first inning, and struck out six.

Alex Aguilar entered the game with one out in the fifth and allowed only two hits.

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