Wildcats deal with late night in opening round loss
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

May 12, 2006 - McKINNEY - The fans that attended the Sulphur Springs Wildcats area round playoff contest Thursday night against the Justin Northwest Texans saw a highly contested match-up at McKinney's Al Alford Field.

That was until the top of the 10th inning.

With the two teams tied at 8-8 heading into the 10th inning, Justin Northwest scored seven runs on four hits off relievers Blake Wells and Chance Massey in a 15-8 Game 1 loss.

"I think we are in a little bit of a many slump which is not the time to be doing it," said SSHS first-year coach Jerrod Hammack. "I thought as bad as we played, I was really pleased with our heart and ability to fight back and we had every reason to stop playing when the score was 7-2. The grand slam in the 10th put the game out of reach and they used a lot of pitchers and used their No. 1 and No. 2 starters."

In the 10th, Tyler Tillotson grounded-out to open the inning, followed by a walk to Rett Varner, Jason Lawrence tripled scoring Varner and then Tyler Collins drove in Nelson Windebank - who was courtesy running for Varner. 

After a single by Drew Walker and a walk to M.J. Storey, Adran Brown hit a grand-slam home run off Massey for the 14-8 lead off Massey. 

Senior Josh Riley led the Wildcats at the plate going 3-for-5 with a run scored, while teammate Wilks also went 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Jake Broumley came in as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and nailed a triple off Brown and later scored the game tying run in the inning.

With the Wildcats needing to win the next two ball games to advance to the next round, Hammack said the team is in good shape heading into Game 2 tonight at 7 p.m.

"I feel like we are better off than they are even though they are up one game to none," he said. "We are better off with the pitching staff the rest of the way and we have to get back to playing better baseball."

"I like our situation and I certainly feel like we are going to win the next two ball games and we are capable of winning them. I think we are a better overall team and we have not played like that the past three ball games."

Sulphur Springs opened up the game with two runs in the bottom of the first inning as Jayden Spencer opened the inning with a ground out, followed by Varner hitting Alex Aguilar and Josh Riley reaching on a single to left field. Casey McMahan cleared the bases with a double to right field for the 2-0 lead.

After a three-up, three down inning by Aguilar in the third inning, Northwest scored one in the top of the third as Lawrence nailed a home run - one of four Northwest homers on the night - to left field for a 2-1 deficit.

Northwest (18-13) then exploded in the top of the fourth inning with six runs on three hits and one Sulphur Springs error to take a 7-2 lead as 10 Texan batters came up in the inning. 

Aguilar was pulled after 3 1/3 innings and gave up seven runs on six hits, two walks, five strikeouts, and two hit batters.

Hammack said Alex was suffering with an injury and was not able to find his pitches throughout the game.

"I don't know," the coach said. "Apparently his arm was hurting him a little bit and I didn't know it and he was not really effective in hitting his spots and working a lot of full counts."

SSHS found a way to tie the game at 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh scoring two in the fourth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh.

In the seventh, Stewart doubled to open the inning and stole third, Colby Mills then grounded out and Tyler Rhoades reached on an error as Stewart scored the tying run.

The Wildcats had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded but Mills struck out to end the inning. 

SSHS (21-8) left 12 men on base and Hammack said the opportunities were there in the game.

"We had numerous opportunities with a runner at third base in the bottom of the inning to do something to score and we weren't able to do it," he said.

After using Wells and Massey in Game 1, Hammack said if the Wildcats win Game 2 a decision will be made on their Game 3 starter as Massey and Spencer could be in the starting rotation.

"I thought Blake pitched wonderfully and he only gave up three runs and did a great job,' the coach said. "That throws a little bit of a monkey wrench for us but not really and he was kind of the Game 3 possible starter."

"We still have Chance and Jayden could be the Game 3 starter but we have got to focus on Game 2 and Jake coming out and throwing a great game."

Notes: Sulphur Springs will be designated as the visitor's in tonight's game and will once again be in the third base dugout. If a game 3 is necessary, the game will start at 1 p.m. at McKinney. The winner of the series will face Highland Park-Dallas Hillcrest in the regional quarterfinals next week.

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