|Wildcats defeat No. 23 Forney as Wells returns from injury|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
March 8, 2006 - FORNEY - Coming off an injury to his throwing shoulder against Pine Tree last Friday night, Wildcat hurler Blake Wells returned to the mound against the No. 23-ranked Forney Jackrabbits for his first start of the year.
The senior did not disappoint.
Wells (1-1) threw a complete-game four-hitter while striking out 11 batters in a 9-1 victory at Jackrabbit Field. He now has a 1.54 ERA in 9 1/3 innings with 12 strikeouts, seven hits and one walk on the year.
"Going in, I kept hearing he (Wells) was just a closer and you know going that long might not be possible, but I felt like he could do it and I wanted to see if he could do it," said SSHS first-year coach Jerrod Hammack.
"I couldn't have been more pleased with him because he was able to keep them off-balance, he mixed in a good curve with his fastball and the umpire was a pitcher's umpire and was giving us the corners."
Sulphur Springs opened up the top of the first inning with a walk by Colby Mills, following a pop-up by Jake Broumley, Josh Riley reached on a single, and then Casey McMahan smacked a 375-foot, three-run RBI home run to left field for a 3-0 lead off Jackrabbit starter Jordan Elder.
The Wildcats (5-3) found a way to cushion their lead in the fourth inning with two more runs off of Jordan Elder, who went five innings giving up seven hits and four walks while striking out three batters.
In the fourth inning, junior Colby Strain reached on a double to open the inning and Mills reached on a throwing error, scoring Strain for a 4-0 lead. Broumley then drove in Mills with an RBI single.
In the bottom half of the inning, Wells faced five batters - the most he faced in an inning all night - and gave up one earned run as Brian Maddox scored on an RBI triple by Justin Eatherley that reached the 400-foot wall in deep center field.
After a Forney pitching change in the top of the sixth inning, the Wildcats scored two runs off of Taylor Thompson on RBI singles by Jayden Spencer and Tyler Rhoades, which drove in Riley and McMahan for a 7-1 lead.
Thompson pitched the final two innings for Forney and gave up four runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out five batters.
Sulphur Springs capped off the scoring in the top of the seventh inning with RBI doubles by Riley and McMahan scoring Broumley and Riley for the 9-1 final.
"I thought they performed great. This is a tremendous win for us and it was time for us to put it all together, and I thought we had a great performance on the mound," Hammack said.
"I thought the guys made plays behind him and we swung the bat real well tonight with a lot of hard hit balls right at them, and I was more than pleased. If we can continue to get better, we are going to be a good club and will be hard to beat."
McMahan led the way for the Wildcats going 4-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored, while classmate Riley went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and one RBI. Broumley was 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored, while Rhoades went 2-for-4 with one RBI.
SSHS will prepare for five games in three days starting tomorrow in the opening round of the 2006 Ennis Lions Allen Samuels Autoplex Invitational at Corsicana High School. The Wildcats open with Terrell at 12:15 p.m. and then face Seagoville at 2:30 p.m.
"We are going to get tested again not only with the teams that we have to play but the number of games that we have to play," the coach said. "It is good that we have Kiffer Davis back from injury because he is another pitcher that we can throw in the mix.
"The other games are tough, too, and we are going to use Broumley and Massey, and anybody that can pitch will probably pitch."
Hammack said his Game 4 starter against Corsicana Friday night will be Alex Aguilar, who currently has a 0.63 ERA with one earned run and 16 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.
Notes: Spencer currently leads the team in batting average with a .500 mark. He is 10-for-20 on the season. ... He also has a 1.00 ERA in seven innings pitched. ... The Wildcats pitching staff has a team ERA of 1.67 with 60 K's and 20 walks in 50 2/3 innings. ... SSHS has six players batting over .300 in the first eight games of the season. ... The team is currently batting .335 (72-of-218), and have only one less home run than they had all of last year (6-5) and more triples than they had last year (5-2).