Wildcats win thriller to open district season
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

March 25, 2006 - For the second straight year, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats needed late-game heroics to defeat the Paris Wildcats in the seventh inning.

This time, SSHS (12-5, 1-0 in District 12-4A) was tied 3-3 and had Scott Stewart reach base on an error and advance to second. On an 0-2 count to Colby Strain, Stewart stole third and then Strain hit a sharp infield single scoring Stewart for the 4-3 win.

"I was just so hyped up and I just hit the ball hard somewhere, and that was all that I could do," Strain said. "I had to get Scott in. He is a good baserunner and he had to do what he had to do and that was a smart move on his part."

Stewart knew the steal was key for the Wildcats.

"The stolen base wasn't called with two outs. It was an opportunity and I took it," he said. "I have been able to do that a couple of times this year and I knew that we needed it and I took the chance. Without that right there, I wouldn't have scored."

Senior ace Alex Aguilar once again pitched a stellar game for the Wildcats as he sat down 14-of-15 batters from the third through the seventh innings before Pate Norment reached on a single. Aguilar pitched a complete-game six-hitter while striking out 15 batters and giving up one earned run.

"I thought he got stronger as the game went on and that is the mark of a great pitcher," said first year coach Jerrod Hammack. "I don't know if it had anything to do with the guy sliding into him at the plate and got his adrenaline even higher, but he seemed to settle down and did a great job."

The Wildcats fell behind 2-0 in the top of the second inning on unearned runs by Clint Dolf and Andrew Harrison when Norment slid hard into home, going spikes up on Aguilar who was covering, on a passed ball which had scored Harrison. Norment was called out for the second out of the inning.

Sulphur Springs found a way to rattle Paris pitcher Thomas Watson in the bottom of the fifth inning as Jayden Spencer reached on a walk followed by Jake Broumley being hit by a pitch for the second time to put runners on first and second with one out.

On the next at-bat, senior Josh Riley - who is now 9-for-12 against Paris - singled sharply to right field to score Spencer for the 2-1 deficit. Casey McMahan then drove in Broumley with a RBI sacrifice to tie the game at 2-2. 

After Norment's single in the top of the seventh inning, Paris went with courtesy runner Decedric Sims in place of Norment. Sims stole second and then pinch hitter Ryan Southworth drove in Sims with an RBI double over Jake North's head in right field for the 3-2 lead.

Hammack said after the play, the team was still confident in their chances to pull out the win.

"Surprisingly the guys were trying to keep Jake's spirits up and they were confident that we had the hitters coming up that we wanted in the order and that was good," the coach said. "I was telling them that I don't have to worry about this team, because we got off to a slow start and we were making mistakes and we found a way to get things done in the end."

Riley went 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, while McMahan went 1-for-2 with two RBI, and Strain went 1-for-4 with the game-winning RBI.

Sulphur Springs will wrap up their four-game homestand Tuesday night against the Mount Pleasant Tigers. First pitch for the game is scheduled for 7 p.m.

"It is a game at home and it is important because it is the next game on the schedule, and if we play well I would expect us to perform well and win," Hammack said. "I hope that game is not as nerve-wracking as this game was, and I expect it to be a good ball game."

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