|Wildcats win thriller to remain in first place in district 12-4A play|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
April 13, 2005 - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats needed a thriller Tuesday night at Eagle Stadium to gain a three-way tie for first place in District 12-4A with four games to go in the regular season.
With two outs and an 0-2 count on SSHS sophomore Colby Mills in the bottom of the seventh, Mills took the next pitch off Paris reliever Thomas Watson into center field to drive in Bailey Potts for a 9-8 win.
"I can't say enough about Colby and the night that he had tonight," said SSHS coach Rahn Smith. "He is seeing the ball real well right now and comes through on an 0-2 pitch against their best pitcher and one of the best pitchers in the district, and this was a total team effort."
SSHS (13-7-1 overall, 4-2 in district) is now tied with North Lamar and Paris for first place and will play Mount Pleasant Friday night in the final game of a three-game home stand.
"Mount Pleasant is dangerous now because they are down and they have nothing to lose," the coach said. "We are going to face a pitcher a lot like the guy tonight that doesn't throw very hard and throws a lot of breaking pitches, and we have got to keep preparing."
Paris jumped out to an early 3-0 lead off starter Alex Aguilar with Colten Hargis scoring the first run on John Rhea's RBI double, then Travis Wright drove in Rhea on a sacrifice fly, and Ryan Southworth capped it off with an RBI single.
"I think this was a total team effort," Smith said. "As far as pitching goes, we didn't support Alex very well the first couple of innings, but he hung in there and he toughed it out for us to win the game. We never gave up tonight and kept battling back and it was a big advantage being at home."
In the fourth inning, Sulphur Springs exploded for four runs as they batted through the line-up with three doubles in the inning from Kason Scroggins, Scott Stewart and Blake Wells.
After Stewart drove in Scroggins, Wells nailed his two-run double scoring Stewart and Jayden Spencer, who came back as a courtesy runner for Aguilar in his first game in over three weeks, for a 5-4 lead.
"If nothing else, Jayden gave us an emotional lift tonight because everybody is glad to have him back and his three-week absence has been tough," the coach said. "He is going to come back really slow and just having him back in the lineup is going to help us."
In the final three innings of play, both teams traded runs as Paris took an 8-6 lead going into the bottom of the sixth on Wright's had a two-run single off Wells.
With two outs in the bottom of the inning, SSHS sophomore Tyler Rhoades nailed a two-run single off Watson to tie the game at 8-8.
"Tonight was huge for us because Paris has to go on the road three times, Texas High has to go on the road three times, and Paris has their best pitcher going Friday against Texas High," Smith said.
Mills led the Wildcats at the plate going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, while teammate Josh Riley went 3-for-4 with an RBI, Stewart and Wells were both 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Wells took the win on the mound for the Cats in relief, pitching two innings of three-hit baseball, striking out three and giving up two runs.
Andrew Harrison went 3-for-3 for Paris with a run scored and an RBI, while Wright went 1-for-1 with a run scored and three RBI.
"We are in a good situation right now and this puts us in great shape because we control our destiny right now and don't have to count on anybody else with four games to play," the coach said. "If we can play our style of baseball, I think we will be in good shape for the remainder of the season."