Wildcats clinch playoff berth
With 11-4 win over Paris, SSHS sets up title showdown with Texas High
By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer
April 20, 2008 - PARIS - Sulphur Springs head baseball coach Jerrod Hammack got his wish granted on Friday night following an 11-4 win over the Paris Wildcats at Hub Hollis Field.
Two weeks ago, Hammack said the Wildcats needed to be 7-1 in District 11-4A heading into their rematch at Texas High, and Sulphur Springs did just that with a strong outing from senior Kevin Mabe.
Mabe gave up one earned run on five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in six innings of work. Junior Josh Anderson came on in relief in the seventh inning and gave up three runs with one earned on three hits. He also allowed one walk and had one strikeout.
He (Kevin) was complaining about his back the inning before he gave up the home run," Hammack said. "You could tell that he was not throwing the ball as hard as he was earlier in the game. I was glad that I was able to bring in Andy (Anderson), and we needed to get him some work. We saw an opportunity to get him some work and he was a little rusty as you can imagine, but I was glad to see him finish the game."
With the win, the Wildcats (13-8) secured a playoff berth heading into the final week of the regular season. They will travel to Texarkana to face the Texas High Tigers on Tuesday, with the first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.
"I will be honest that I think we are as good top-to-bottom as Texas High is, and in my mind I think we are better overall," the coach said. "We will have Brittan Diamond on the mound, and I will be interested to see who they threw tonight.
"If they threw (Josh) Turley, then we will probably get (Slade) Heathcott and it will be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up. I know it will be a long trip and I hope that we can get people to come out there and watch it, because I think it will be a good match-up."
In the bottom half of the sixth inning, Mabe gave up a 335-foot home run to Jon Marc Abbey for an 8-1 deficit. Chris Matthews then reached first on a single and Robert Staples hit a fly ball to left field as Matthews and Staples reached second and third with one out.
Mabe was able to work out of the jam as he struck out Dillon McEwin and Kyle Coston to end the inning.
Earlier in the game, the Wildcats jumped out to a 1-0 lead as Jace Jackson drove in Jeff Beck with a single to right field. SSHS then scored three more runs in the second inning as Ben Barrows led off the inning with a walk and then stole second.
With one out, Beck reached on an error and Dalton Abner loaded the bases with a four-pitch walk. Diamond then drove in Barrows with a walk, and Beck came into score on a wild pitch from Chris Baker.
The big hit of the inning came from senior first baseman Dustin Gant with two outs as he drove in Abner and Diamond with a single to right field for the 5-0 lead. Gant went 2-for-3 with four RBI.
"Our first basemen have really come on this year," the coach said. "They are both being productive hitters, and I think the first one for Dustin was the biggest of the game."
In the top of the sixth, the Wildcats scored three runs on defensive miscues by Paris as Beck, Abner and Diamond all scored on errors or passed balls for an 8-0 lead. The Wildcats scored their final three runs in the seventh on a balk, as Whittle came into score, and a two-run single by Gant for an 11-1 lead.
With Anderson on the mound in the top of the seventh, Chase Harvey drove in Cullen Calabria as Kenny Wall came in on the throw-in from the outfield. Harvey later scored on a wide throw from the outfield for the 11-4 finale.
Paris pitchers Baker, Abbey and Rogan Eisele allowed only five hits as the defense committed four errors in the game.
"Our bats were not really good tonight, and I know that is hard to say when you score 11 runs in a game," the coach said. "We only got five hits and when you mix in several errors and walks from them, then that is why you score that many runs with only five hits.
"We did have some key hits, but not very many. Jon Marc Abbey did another fine job against us and we had trouble with him the first time that we faced him."
Beck finished the game 1-for-3 with four runs scored, while Jackson went 1-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI, and Josh Dunn went 1-for-4 for the Wildcats. Dunn was also hit by a pitch in the seventh inning.
SSHS 14, Paris 4
The Wildcats moved one step closer to achieving a district championship Friday as they defeated Paris 14-4. With the win, Sulphur Springs improves to 17-0 overall and 8-0 in District 11-4A.
The Cats took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the third when they scored 10 runs on five hits and seven walks. After giving up four in the top of the fourth, SSHS scored two more runs in the sixth inning to end the game by the run-rule.
Grayson North and Conner Brackhahn each recorded two hits. Brackhahn also added two walks, a stolen base and an RBI. Jake Dougan, Jocko Spataro and Josh Halcomb each reached base three times with a base hit and two walks.
The JV squad will wrap up their season next week as they host Texas High at 7 p.m. Monday, and travel to North Lamar on Friday.