Wildcats win first home game of season with strong outing from Diamond

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

Mar. 17, 2007 - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats used a dose of solid pitching and some little ball to help them get back on track Friday afternoon.

Backed by Brittan Diamond's five-hitter, the Wildcats broke a 2-2 tie with Bullard in the bottom of the sixth by scoring two runs with only one ball leaving the infield. The result was a 4-3 victory at Eagle Stadium, the Wildcats' first home win of the season.

After Tuesday's 9-1 loss to Gladewater and Thursday's rainout against Royse City, the Wildcats (8-6) needed a good outing to steady themselves. Though they made four errors in the field, they hit the ball well, were aggressive on the base paths and came through with the game on the line.

With the game tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, SSHS' Colby Strain led off the inning with a sharp single down the left field line. Clay Wilks and Jake North then both attempted to move Strain over with bunts, but they came out even better - they both reached on infield singles.

Wilks' bunt rolled by the pitcher and he beat out the second baseman's throw to first, then North was safe on a well-placed bunt to third.

That set the stage for junior Josh Dunn and senior Ladarius Harrison, who each drove in a run with an infield grounder. Dunn also drove in the Wildcats' second run with an RBI triple to right in the fourth.

The Wildcats ended up scoring three earned runs against the combination of starter Travis Eudey and reliever Cameron Agnew.

"That's their No. 1 pitcher, and I was glad to see him on the mound," SSHS head coach Jerrod Hammack said of Eudey. "They're going to be a playoff team in 3A and they're a good team. I knew they were going to be tough with that guy on the mound."

Diamond was tough on Bullard as well. He fanned 10 and gave up just five hits - none from the second to the sixth inning. After being touched for one run in the first and an unearned run in the fourth, Diamond ran into some trouble in the seventh, but got out of it.

A one-out double by Bullard's Nikki Rumbelow, followed by consecutive two-out singles from Austin Camp and Ryan Clarke, plus an SSHS outfield error, plated one run and put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, but Diamond struck out the final batter on four pitches to complete the game.

"Brittan did an outstanding job," Hammack said. "The thing I've found about Brittan is that he's a competitor and he's going to take the bull by the horns and get after it. He was able to work out of trouble.

"The only time he really gets in trouble is when he gets the ball up. When he's working down, both sides of the plate and gets his curveball over and his change-up, he's very difficult for people to handle. I'm pleased to know he's going to be our starter next Friday night in the district opener."

The Wildcats are scheduled to play in Longview at 1 p.m. today, then host Edgewood on Tuesday before facing Mount Pleasant next Friday in the 11-4A opener.

Before then, Hammack wants his defense to be steadier. The Wildcats' infield committed two errors and the outfield also had two miscues. But, Beck at shortstop made a diving grab of a line drive to his right to end the sixth inning.

Sulphur Springs was also able to take advantage of a pair of mistakes by Bullard. With two outs in the third inning, Jeff Beck reached on a bouncer to third. Diamond moved him to second with a single, then Dalton Abner drove Beck home with a sharp liner to center to tie the game at 1-1. In the fourth, Strain walked and came home on Dunn's line drive to right field, which took a bad hop past the fielder.

Abner finished the game 2-for-3 for SSHS, while Clarke had a pair of hits for Bullard.

In the JV contest, the Wildcats improved to 8-2 with a 4-3 win. Colton Jones picked up the victory on the mound, and Jace Jackson scored the winning run after singling in the fifth inning, stealing second and third and scoring on a wild pitch.

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