|Wildcats lose second straight game to Lindale, 2-1|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
March 15, 2006 - LINDALE - For the second time this season, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats saw identical scores against the No. 6-ranked Lindale Eagles.
Lindale defeated SSHS 2-1 - the same score of the opening round of the Oil Belt Classic at Kilgore's Driller Park - with the key run coming on a suicide squeeze by Carson Middleton as Ryan Merrell scored on a throwing error that bounced off the bridge of Scott Stewart's nose for the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning.
"That is the first squeeze that we have had put on us all year and it is a great play when it works," said SSHS coach Jerrod Hammack. "He gave the runner a long time, and I think he would have been safe had he not even bunted it. That ended up being the difference in the game, but we had other opportunities to tie the game or take the lead."
Middleton also scored on an RBI single by Aaron Neely in the bottom of the third inning for a 2-0 Lindale lead off starting pitcher Jake Broumley, who took the loss.
Broumley once again had a strong performance on the mound for the Wildcats giving up two runs on five hits with 11 strikeouts and five walks in five innings. Chance Massey pitched the sixth inning, striking out two batters.
Broumley is now 2-1 on the season with a 3.00 ERA and leads the team with 33 strikeouts and 19 walks, while giving up 14 hits in 21 innings.
Hammack said the walks once again hurt his starter in the first inning and the pitch count was way too high.
"Jake pitched well enough to win and I think he walked five - which is too many - and he threw 100 pitches in five inning - which is too many - so he is throwing too many pitches per batter," the coach said. "He has got to cut down on his pitches per inning, and I would like to get him further into the game."
The Wildcats up and down the lineup had a hard time figuring out Lindale starting pitcher Drew Cole as they only had three hits and seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Cole did hit three batters in the game as Jayden Spencer was hit twice and now has been hit eight times in 14 games this season.
"He did confuse us and obviously he is not as good as their No. 1 who came in late, but he did seem to change speeds enough to make his fastball appear faster than it really was," Hammack said. "I don't think he was throwing but low-to-mid 80s and we had a lot of jams and didn't have but about three hard hits."
Sulphur Springs (9-5) made the game interesting in the top of the seventh inning as Tyler Rhoades opened the inning with a single. Following a fly ball by Jake North, Alex Aguilar reached first on an error by the first baseman.
Rhoades then went to third on a passed ball by Lindale catcher Jacob Cates - who attempted to pick Rhoades off at third - but threw the ball into left field and Rhoades went home to cut the deficit to 2-1. Aguilar advanced to third on the play.
"Rhoades made a play. He was at second and was able to read that play in the dirt and took off," the coach said. "The catcher tried to make a play and he threw the ball into left field, and we were able to get the run."
After Spencer was hit by Cole and stole second, Middleton struck out Broumley and Josh Riley to end the game.
Rhoades went 1-for-2 from the plate, while Broumley and Colby Strain went 1-for-2 for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats will play in their first home game of the year tomorrow afternoon against Royse City Bulldogs at Eagle Stadium. Game time is set for 1 p.m. but could be moved to 2 p.m. instead of the 6 p.m. start that was on the schedule.
"I hope to see us coming back to playing the kind of baseball that is us. We swing the bats better than we showed tonight and we usually play very good defense and run the bases well," the coach said.
"It is very important and you always want to go into your district opener on a winning streak and we have two home game prior to that, and I think the wins will be there."