Wildcats take day off against Gladewater

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

Mar. 14, 2007 - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats were still in spring break mode when they showed up to play Gladewater on Tuesday. Coach Jerrod Hammack cut into their vacation a little more after the game.

Following a 9-1 loss to the Bears at Eagle Stadium early Tuesday afternoon, the Wildcats held a late afternoon practice. That was the repercussion to a lackluster performance against a team that came into the game with a 2-10 record.

Sulphur Springs mustered just five hits against Gladewater's soft-tossing righthander Shane Flesher, who at one point sat down 13 consecutive Wildcats.

That game came on the heels of a break-out performance at the Ennis tournament in which the Wildcats (7-6) averaged almost 10 runs per game in the three-game outing.

"It's extremely disappointing after the weekend that we had," Hammack said. "We thought we were moving in the right direction. We had a day off yesterday because of the rain, and I thought we'd be chomping at the bit to get back out here and play somebody, but we couldn't have played any worse than nine dead people out there."

Defensively, the Wildcats committed four errors, while four SSHS pitchers combined to surrender six walks and nine hits.

Sulphur Springs lead-off hitter Brittan Diamond had a pair of doubles, including one to open the game, but he was left stranded both times. His double with one out in the sixth ended a string of 13 straight outs by the Wildcats.

Sulphur Springs' lone run came on Colby Strain's lead-off home run to straight-away center field in the bottom of the seventh. It was his second round-tripper in the last two games.

Gladewater took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on just one hit and one error. Wildcat starter Jeff Beck allowed two full-count walks, and both runners came around on James Thomas' single and a outfield error.

Gladewater then plated six runs in the third inning on RBI singles by Davis Roebuck, Dwight Johnson and Josh Holley, and a two-run single from Colt Barber.

Diamond and Kevin Mabe then settled down the game by pitching 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. The Bears added another run in the seventh on a solo home run by Nick Clifton off Ty Tiegiser.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, fanned nine times against Flesher. Five of the strikeouts were called.

"That's just the second or third time (Flesher) has stepped on the mound," Hammack said. "We helped him out by swinging at some balls that maybe we shouldn't, then we took balls we should have been swinging at."

The Wildcats get a chance for redemption three more times this week. They will travel to Royse City at 1 p.m. tomorrow, then host Bullard at 2:30 p.m. on Friday before visiting Longview on Saturday for a 1 p.m. contest.

Hammack wasn't going to wait until those games to see how his team responded. He took the unusual move of having practice following a game.

"This is only the second time I've done this in my career, and it worked the first time for a team that was lackadaisical like we were today," Hammack said. "We're going to come back out here and see if we can't get after it a little bit and be ready the next time we play."

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