|SSHS baseball splits opening day action in Kilgore|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
March 4, 2005 - KILGORE - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats split opening day action in the Sam Ross Oil Belt Classic Thursday afternoon at Driller Park winning 4-3 over the Longview Lobos, and then losing to the Kilgore Bulldogs 12-7 in their second game of the tournament.
"Overall, I knew coming in that it would be a big day for us on day one since we were facing two really good teams and coming out with a win in the first one was a big win," SSHS coach Rahn Smith said.
SSHS (4-2) was scheduled to face South Oak Cliff today in the final round of pool play before championship Saturday occurs tomorrow at Driller Park.
"Today is going to be a big confidence day and we need to play seven full innings because we haven't played a full seven innings all year," the coach said. "We just can't have the mistakes that we have had so far this season in today's game.
In game one, senior leader Casey McMahan took a pitch in the nose on his first at bat and had to sit out for the remainder of the game but came back in game two and went 0-for-2 at the plate.
"Casey is a competitor and he wanted to go back in a try it out but he just wasn't himself after getting hit in the nose," Smith said. "We will probably sit him today against South Oak Cliff and that hurts us to lose are number three hitter in the line-up and one of our best defenders players going out his first at bat."
Against Longview, SSHS scored all four of their runs in the third innings starting with an RBI-sacrifice fly from Scott Stewart that sent in Josh Riley from third.
The bottom half of the lineup went 6-for-11 with four RBI's against Longview as Jayden Spencer, Bryan Shurtleff, and Kason Scroggins went a combined 6-for-9 at the plate.
Zach Adair picked up the win for the Wildcats pitching five innings with five strikeouts, three hits, and two walks in game one.
"Zach pitched well but didn't have the pop that he usually does on his fastball and he kept the ball down even though his arm was sore," the coach said.
In game two, Kilgore jumped on starter Jake Broumley early in the game and held an 8-0 lead at the end of the third inning of play as he gave up six hits, four walks, and one strikeout in three innings of work.
SSHS committed nine errors in the field and Smith said if the team would have been able to cut the errors down they could have easily been within the game because of the way they battled back.
"In the second game, we didn't overcome some adversity early and we made some errors, which led to runs and I always tell the kids that we need to stop the big inning and we didn't," the coach said.
The Wildcats battled back in the last three innings of the game as Kilgore catcher Ty Gaudet had six passed balls that led to three of the seven runs scored by the Wildcats.
Tyler Rhoades, batting in place of McMahan, knocked a home-run off of Kilgore reliever Robert Nicholls for the 12-7 finale.
"Tyler took advantage of the opportunity that he had in the game due to the injury from McMahan and I knew that he could hit for us in the game," Smith said. "I was proud of the way that we kept chipping away at the lead and we scored seven runs at the end."
Sulphur Springs will play their first home game of the year Tuesday night against the Forney Jackrabbits. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.