Wildcats drop to second place with loss to Texas High

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

April 7, 2008 - Saturday's night matchup between the Sulphur Springs Wildcats and the Texas High Tigers had the makings of a championship title fight.

But in the end, the Tigers (17-3, 4-0) landed the knockout blow in a 3-1 win at Eagle Stadium behind a strong pitching performance from their ace Josh Turley. He allowed one run on three hits while striking out 14 batters.

"I thought we reverted back to our old selves at the plate tonight and helped him out," said SSHS coach Jerrod Hammack. "We were taking some fastballs and helping him out with his curveball during the game.

"He was not quite as dominating as he was last year when we faced him, but then again he was dominating enough to be able to beat us."

The Wildcats (9-8, 3-1) had a strong pitching performance from their No. 2 starter Kevin Mabe, who pitched the complete game, giving up three runs on six hits with five strikeouts and one walk.

"I thought Kevin did a nice job as well, and he competed hard," the coach said. "He wanted to go back out there in the seventh even though he had reached about the 100-pitch count.

"I thought he threw a good seventh inning and got his curveball in there at times. I was more than pleased. He pitched good enough to win, and it was good to see a solid effort for your No. 2 pitcher."

After a single by Brittan Diamond in the bottom of the first inning off Turley, who had not pitched in 11 days prior to the start, the Texas High starter then retired the next 15 Wildcat batters in order. Jeff Beck ended the drought with a single to right field, but was picked off at first by Turley.

"The good thing going back to the first inning when Brittan got that hit up the middle, I thought it was a good thing that we got the no-hitter out of the way," Hammack said. "We have got to figure out a way to hit Turley, because I believe without a doubt that we will see him again at their place."

Both teams remained scoreless through the first three innings before T-High put together a strong fourth inning.

John Stilson opened the inning reaching on an error and then Slade Heathcott put runners on first and second with a single to center field. Hunter Allday then moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt, and Caleb Dudley drove in Stilson with a sacrifice fly for the 1-0 lead.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Tigers sent eight batters to the plate against Mabe as Stilson reached base with a one-out single. Heathcott then drove in Stilson with a double to deep right field for the 2-0 lead.

Allday then walked and Dudley loaded the bases with a single to left before Ricardo Pierce scored Heathcott as he was hit by a pitch for the 3-0 lead.

Wildcats senior catcher Josh Dunn then made a spectacular catch on the netting on Nathan Sorenson's pop-up, as he leaped into the netting to make the out. Diamond, at third, then made a lunging catch on a sharply hit ball by Richard Whitner for the third out of the inning.

"You got to love a guy that has that sort of energy and positiveness," the coach said. "When it was first hit, I knew that it was in play and I thought that it would be one that he (Dunn) could just get under and make a routine play on. As I was watching the play, he just got up there and made the play, and it made him and everyone else excited.

"He then comes back on the delayed steal in the seventh and throws a frozen rope to get Turley out by a mile. He is a great defensive catcher and I would not take anybody else over him."

Sulphur Springs scored its run in the bottom of the seventh as Dalton Abner reached with a double and scored on a groundout by Diamond for the 3-1 deficit.

The Wildcats were led at the plate by Beck, Abner and Diamond as they each went 1-for-3 at the plate.

SSHS travels to North Lamar Tuesday to wrap up the first round of district play. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

"North Lamar season's has been a weird situation," the coach said. "I don't know much about them because they have lost about everybody that they had last year. All I am concerned about is getting us prepared to play and us going over there and doing the things that we do to make us successful."

Junior Varsity

SSHS 19, Texas High 3

SSHS scored two runs in the top of the first inning on two hits and one error. They never looked back scoring at least two runs in every inning. Offensively for the Cats, Grayson North, Conner Brackhahn, Shane McQueen, Colby Suggs, Jake Dougan and Jocko Spataro all recorded two hits. Tyler Higginbotham added a hit, walk and sacrifice fly.

Suggs (4-0, 1.40 ERA) went the distance on the mound allowing no earned runs and striking out 10. This marks the fourth straight complete game by three different pitchers for the Wildcat pitching staff. Catcher Spataro threw out 2-of-3 potential base stealers.

The undefeated JV squad (13-0, 4-0 district) hosts North Lamar tonight at 7 p.m.

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