Wildcats hammer Edgewood, 22-8

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

Mar. 21, 2007 - EDGEWOOD - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats used home plate as their own personal turnstile Tuesday night.

The Wildcats slammed 11 extra-base hits, including four home runs - two of them by first baseman Colby Strain - in a 22-8 rout of the Edgewood Bulldogs, called after five innings.

Strain had three extra-base hits and four RBI, Jeff Beck knocked in five runs including a three-run homer, Clay Wilks also slammed a round-tripper as part of a three-hit night, and Tyler Rhoades hammered out three doubles and drove in three runs.

That doesn't even count three-hit games from Ladarius Harrison, who made a couple of nice running catches in center field, and Kevin Mabe, who picked up the victory on the mound by giving up two earned runs in four innings.

Every starter had at least one hit as the Wildcats (9-6) pounded out 22 hits, were issued six walks and were hit three times by pitches. They sent 19 batters to the plate in their 13-run fourth inning as the first 11 batters reached base successfully and scored.

SSHS head coach Jerrod Hammack was obviously pleased with what he saw, though he was surprised it was so easy. Edgewood made it to the finals of the Oil Belt Classic tournament and had beaten good teams in Longview and Bullard.

"I really expected it to be a dogfight," Hammack said. "I was really expecting to see where we stood, and we just had one of those games that you have every now and then, maybe just once a year, where everything goes right offensively.

"It was fun to watch."

The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Harrison double and Strain's third home run of the season. Edgewood took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second inning, but the Wildcats responded with seven runs in the third and 13 more in the fourth.

Strain hit his fourth homer of the season, a two-run shot, in the fourth and Wilks followed three pitches later with his first home run. Beck then drove a 2-1 pitch over the left field fence in the fifth inning to drive in the Wildcats' final three runs.

Half of Sulphur Springs' 22 hits went for extra bases, and 14 of the hits went from gap-to-gap or to the opposite field. That's payoff for the philosophy that Hammack has been teaching.

"It was nice to see that when you preach a lot of hitting philosophy and you work on it all the time and it seemed like it clicked last night," he said. "It seemed like we wore out that right-center field gap. Guys were hitting the ball hard. I was pleased with that aspect.

"I don't expect us to score 25 runs a game, but I expect us to continue that philosophy, hit the ball hard and score a lot of runs."

On the mound, starter Kevin Mabe went four innings, giving up three runs, two of them earned, on four hits and one walk. He and Brittan Diamond are penciled in as district starters.

The Wildcats' should be a confidence-booster going into Friday's District 11-4A opener against Mount Pleasant.

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