Hard Hitting: Sulphur Springs hammers Mount Vernon pitching

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Feb. 28, 2007 - MOUNT VERNON - Sulphur Springs knocked out Mount Vernon's starting pitcher with a line drive off his ankle on the game's second pitch Tuesday.

The Wildcats then knocked around the other three MV hurlers the rest of the game.

The Wildcats hammered Mount Vernon, 15-3, in a five-inning contest shortened by the 10-run rule, to improve to 3-1.

MV southpaw Zach Jaggers lasted just two pitches into the game when SSHS leadoff hitter Brittan Diamond lined a single off his ankle. The Wildcats had just one other hit through the first three innings, then exploded for 14 runs in the next two frames.

Diamond scored three runs, as did junior Jeff Beck, who had two hits along with Jake North. Kevin Mabe knocked in five runs with a pair of doubles and a sacrifice fly, and also picked up the win on the mound by giving up one run in two innings. He allowed three hits and two walks while fanning four.

The Wildcats trailed 2-1 before putting up five runs in the fourth inning and then sent 12 batters to the plate in their nine-run fifth inning.

"We just got through talking about the need to get started a little quicker," said SSHS head coach Jerrod Hammack. "We did score a run in the first inning, but we had opportunities to score a lot more early and just didn't get it done.

"If we stay in a game, which we usually do, it seems like we get going in the fourth, fifth, sixth inning, and do a good job. But, I'd like to get started a little bit earlier."

Sulphur Springs got all the runs it needed in the fourth inning. Senior Clay Wilks started the inning with a sharp single to left and was followed in order by three consecutive singles from North, Josh Dunn and Beck, whose infield single drove home a run. After Mabe lofted an RBI fly to right field, Diamond and Dalton Abner both had run-scoring grounders in which they reached on errors.

By the time the inning was over, SSHS had sent 11 batters to the plate and taken a 6-2 lead.

Mabe, who came on in relief of starter Tyler Rhoades in the third inning, then pitched a scoreless bottom of the fourth to get the Wildcats back on offense.

They responded with nine more runs. Mabe had not one but two doubles that each drove home two runs and Abner had his second RBI of the game on a double of his own. After a pair of walks to Bill Hood and Wilks, North rapped his own two-run single.

Defensively, Dunn threw out a pair of would-be base stealers in the first inning, Rhoades made a diving stop at third base of a grounder and threw out the base runner and the Wildcats committed just one error other than a bad-hop grounder to shortstop.

"I thought we did make some plays that we hadn't been making," said Hammack. "Tyler Rhoades is doing a great job making that play diving to his left and throwing the runner out at first. The outfield, for the most part, did a good job.

"And, Kevin Mabe had been on an ag trip and did a good job for not having thrown in a couple of weeks. He did a good job, and we're certainly counting on him."

Ty Tiegiser came on in relief for the fifth and gave up one earned run on two hits. Rhoades, who pitched the first two innings, also allowed one eared run on one hit, two walks and a hit batter.

The Wildcats will be in action starting Thursday in the Oil Belt Tournament in Kilgore. The Wildcats will face xxxxx at noon Thursday. They will play twice on Friday, at noon and at 6 p.m.

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