Wildcats baseball finishes fifth in Oil Belt Classic

From Staff Reports

Mar. 5, 2007 - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats captured fifth place at the Oil Belt Classic on Saturday, but that wasn't the most important part of the tournament.

After a heart-breaking 3-2 extra-inning loss to Pine Tree on Friday night, the Wildcats bounced back to beat Longview 5-4 on Saturday.

SSHS head coach Jerrod Hammack said the most important aspect of the two games were to see how the Wildcats would compete against one of the best teams in the area (Pine Tree) and then how they would respond to the loss on Saturday.

"It was a devastating loss, without question," Hammack said the Pine Tree defeat. "I felt like we deserved to win the game. I wanted to see how we stacked up against the best in East Texas, and I thought we stacked up really well. We should have won the ball game."

In Friday's game, played at Pine Tree's Field of Dreams, the Wildcats (5-3) got an outstanding eight-inning performance from Kevin Mabe on the mound. He scattered 11 hits while walking one and striking out one.

He had a shutout through 5 2/3 innings, then gave up one run on what Wildcat fans thought was a poor call at the plate. On the play, a PT runner tagged from third on a fly ball hit to Dalton Abner in left field. On Abner's throw to the plate, SSHS catcher Josh Dunn appeared to block the runner off the base until he applied the tag, but the umpire saw it differently and called him safe.

Still, the Wildcats led 2-1 going into the bottom of the seventh. But, Pine Tree's Perkins singled with two outs. Another player ran for him and stole second, then went to third on an early steal and scored on a throwing error to tie the game at 2-2 and send it into an extra inning, where PT won on a two-out RBI single.

"I wanted to see how Kevin Mabe was going to look against them, and he really did an outstanding job," Hammack said. "He had a shutout through the fifth and really should have been through the sixth.

"I mostly wanted to see how we would compete against one of the best teams in East Texas, and I thought we did well."

The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the sixth when Mabe singled with one out, went to third on Colby Strain's double to left and scored on Clay Wilks' grounder.

The Wildcats managed four hits, one each by Brittan Diamond, Tyler Rhoades, Abner and Jeff Beck. In the seventh, Beck and Diamond both singled with two outs, but were stranded.

SSHS 5, Longview 4

The Wildcats hung around long enough to win the game in their final at-bat when Jake North stroked a two-out single to left to drive in Rhoades who had singled) in the bottom of the seventh.

The Wildcats scored two runs in the third when Ladarius Harrison walked and Rhoades singled. Bill Hood drove home on run on a ground ball and North plated the other with another infield grounder.

Sulphur Springs added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Chris Thompson singled and scored on Hood's double. In the seventh, Brandon Whittle singled with one out and scored on Diamond's two-out single.

Beck went the distance on the mound, scattering 10 hits while fanning five.

"It was a good way to end the tournament. Playing for fifth place wasn't much motivation, but that wasn't what we were playing for," Hammack said. "We were playing to see if we could bounce back from what happened to us the night before.

"We did - we bounced back and won the game. It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it."

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