Wildcats nip Lobos in extra innings

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

March 21, 2008 - If Thursday afternoon was any indication of how district play will be the next two years, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats will have a dogfight with the Longview Lobos.

The Wildcats (6-7) needed a walk-off RBI single from Mason Rawson in the bottom of the ninth inning to pull out a 9-8 victory in the first game of their doubleheader at Eagle Stadium. The Wildcats lost the second game of the day 14-0 to the Mesquite Horn Jaguars as Brady Harmon took the loss.

"It was a frustrating day up until the seventh inning of the game," said Wildcats coach Jerrod Hammack about the Longview game. "The good thing was we were able to jump out on them in the first inning and that is something that we have not done much this year.

"We've got to have that kind of intensity the whole game and not when it is a do-or-die situations. It is hard to get the kids to have that kind of intensity throughout the game, but I am proud of them to fight hard and win the game."

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Wildcats trailed 6-4 on an RBI single by Brandon Whittle that scored Harmon. On the next at-bat, senior shortstop Jeff Beck nailed a two-run home run to left field to send the game into extra innings.

"When he first hit it, I thought that it was just a pop-fly and I was not sure if he hit it well enough," the coach said. "After that, I could see that it was hit well but I wasn't sure if it was fair and he hit it to where it was just over the foul pole. That was a big hit for us and he definitely stepped up for us."

Earlier in the game, Sulphur Springs took a 2-0 lead as Kevin Mabe reached on a walk, followed by a single from Brittan Diamond. Jace Jackson then loaded the bases as he reached on an error and senior Josh Dunn nailed a double to score Mabe and courtesy runner Jayden Wallace.

The Lobos came back in the top of the third inning with three runs on one hit and two Wildcat errors to take the lead.

Longview centerfielder Johnny Garrett had the big hit in the inning with a two-run double off starting pitcher Diamond to tie the game. William Johnson then grounded out to second as Garrett scored for the 3-2 lead. Diamond went seven innings, giving up six runs, two earned, on nine hits with seven strikeouts.

"They have some good hitters and they always do," the coach said. "I thought he (Diamond) pitched well for the most part, but he did miss some spots during the game. He is always going to compete and battle for you, and I thought he got some bad breaks."

In the fourth inning, the Wildcats once again tied the game as Dunn went to third on an error by the right fielder. Courtesy runner Cedric Finnie then scored the tying run on a single by Rawson.

Longview then took a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning on Casey Zager's RBI single.

Hammack said after the Lobos took a 6-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, he challenged the team to step up if they wanted to break their four-game losing streak.

"Going into the bottom of the seventh inning after having a horrible sixth inning on defense with all kinds of mistakes, the guys found a way to get the job done in the seventh," the coach said. "The guys never believed that they were going to lose that game and that is something that I hope will be a turning point in this season.

After a scoreless eighth inning, the Lobos scored two runs in the top of the ninth as Johnson nailed a two-run single off reliever Dalton Abner for the 8-6 lead. Abner picked up the win going two innings and giving up two runs on two hits and striking out one.

In the bottom half of the ninth inning, Beck led off with a single and Diamond put runners on second and third with a double. Jackson then cleared the bases with a single. With two outs, Jackson stole second before Rawson nailed a 3-1 pitch to left field for the 9-8 win.

Beck went 3-for-5 at the plate with two RBI and two runs scored for the Wildcats, while Diamond, Jackson, Dunn and Rawson all went 2-for-5 with a combined six RBI.

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