On Track: Wildcats run-rule Lindale to stay on top of district standings

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

Mar. 28, 20007 - Sulphur Springs starter Kevin Mabe pitched pretty well Tuesday until Lindale scored its first run of the game. Then, he pitched even better.

Mabe held Lindale to three hits, none after the third inning, and Sulphur Springs belted out 16 hits of its own in an 11-1 win over the Eagles halted in the sixth inning due to the mercy rule.

The Wildcats improved to 2-0 in District 11-4A, 11-7 overall, behind Mabe's complete-game performance and an offense that was led by first baseman Colby Strain's two-run double and solo home run and three hits each from junior infielders Brittan Diamond and Jeff Beck.

The Wildcats put up three runs in the first inning to grab control of the game and scored runs in every frame but one.

Mabe allowed just one run, and it was unearned, in the third inning to cut the SSHS lead to 4-1. He then retired 10 of the next 12 batters, and the only two Eagles to reach base in that span never made it past first base.

He was helped out by a couple of outstanding defense plays, including Beck at shortstop taking a short hop up the middle on the run and making a throw to first, and a diving stop of a line drive at third by Tyler Rhoades. For the third straight game, catcher Josh Dunn didn't allow a passed ball or wild pitch.

"We've really gotten solid pitching much of the year, especially out of our top two guys - that's not really ever been the problem," said SSHS head coach Jerrod Hammack. "Lately, we've played really good defense behind them. We're making the plays we should be making and we're making some plays that are really good ones that we might not make all that often. But, we're making them right now."

The Wildcats are also doing all they need at the plate.

Diamond extended his hitting streak to 16 games with an infield single to start the Sulphur Springs half of the first inning, and Ladarius Harrison reached on an error off a sacrifice bunt before Strain ripped a one-out double to the left field gap to score both runners. Jake North then drove in Strain with an infield grounder to make the score 3-0.

The Wildcats added another run in the second on Diamond's RBI single to right, scoring Mabe, who had singled to lead off the inning.

Then, Lindale scored its lone run on a two-out walk, a single and an outfield error - the Wildcats' only miscue of the game.

Sulphur Springs got the run back in the bottom half of the inning when Strain ripped a solo home run, his fifth of the season, over the left field scoreboard and onto Houston Street.

The Wildcats then knocked out Eagle starter Matt McDaniel in the fifth inning with a six-hit, four-run inning. Clay Wilks started the frame with a double to center, North singled, then Dunn, Beck and Diamond followed in succession with RBI singles to increase the Wildcat lead to 9-1.

In the sixth, the Wildcats ended the game against Lindale reliever Daniel Averitt when North was hit by a pitch, Dunn singled and they both moved up a base on a wild pitch. Mabe brought them both in with a two-run single up the middle.

The Wildcats have won three games in a row, and they have played well in all three.

"I think it's a confidence factor. We're building on three-in-a-row, so now, they think they can do a little more and a little more, and it's showing on the field," Hammack said. "I think it's focus, it's mental. We know we're in the season that really matters - that's no excuse for not playing well earlier in the season - but you can just tell there's more focus.

"You can't take a night off in district. We've got to come and play, and it starts with us. We can control our attitude and our energy. As long as we do that, we'll be OK. I guess they believe in that and they're doing it."

Notes: The Wildcats will travel to Paris on Friday for their next 11-4A contest. Game time is 7 p.m. ... Paris (1-1) lost to North Lamar, 5-0, on Tuesday. The other district game, Mount Pleasant at Texas High, was postponed until today. ... Along with Diamond's 16-game hitting streak, Strain has hit in seven consecutive games. ... Those two, along with Wilks, Dunn, Mabe and Beck all had multi-hit games.

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