Wildcats follow game plan in win over Kilgore

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

May 4, 2008 - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats made the most out of their one-game, winner-take-all bi-district playoff match-up with the Kilgore Bulldogs Friday night at Eagle Stadium.

The Wildcats (15-10) advanced to the area round of the Class 4A, Region II playoffs with a 7-2 victory over the Bulldogs.

With the win, Sulphur Springs will now face the No. 2-ranked Mesquite Poteet Pirates in a best-of-three series. Mesquite Poteet comes into the series with a 25-3 record after defeating Denton Ryan 10-0 in a warmup game Friday night.

"It is a privilege to play these schools and they do have a good lefty and our scouts saw him tonight," SSHS coach Jerrod Hammack said. "They said they got him in the low-to-mid '80s and he can pinpoint where he wants to throw the ball at any moment and he has a good curveball. I don't think he can overpower us if we can apply some of the same strategy that we did tonight. It will be a challenge but these kids are competitors and we are glad that we moved past the first round."

The two teams will open their area round series Thursday night at Poteet with a 7:30 p.m. start. Game 2 is scheduled for Friday at Eagle Stadium at 7:30 p.m., while Game 3, if necessary, will be back in Mesquite Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. with SSHS designated as the home team.

On Friday, the Wildcats followed their scouting report to perfection as they pounded out 11 hits off Bulldogs starter Danny Sharpe and reliever Trace Deberry. Sharpe took the loss going 3 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits with two strikeouts, while Deberry went the final 2 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on three hits with one strikeouts.

"It was really nice to see that all of the practice that we did Monday-Thursday and even today before the game was big for us," the coach said.

"That kid (Sharpe) is a good pitcher and he won their final two games of the regular season and he is the reason they got in the playoffs. We have seen our share of good lefties and we felt like we could hit him. We had a good plan and we worked all week long on it. The kids did a good job of taking it from practice into the game tonight."

SSHS led off the game with a single to right center by senior Jeff Beck, as Dalton Abner sacrificed Beck to second. On the pick-off attempt by Sharp, he threw the ball wide of second as Beck was able to come around to score for the 1-0 lead.

The Wildcats then busted the game open in the bottom of the third inning scoring four runs off Sharp as eight batters went to the plate. The big hit came from senior second baseman Brandon Whittle with a triple to lead off the inning.

Beck then drove in Whittle with a double, Abner reached on an error as Beck came around to score. With one out, Jackson drove in Abner with a double and Josh Dunn drove in Jackson for a 5-0 lead.

Kilgore found a way to score off Diamond in the top of the fourth with an RBI-single by Chris Dudley scoring Deberry for the 5-1 deficit.

Barrows then led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single and scored on Whittle's sacrifice bunt that turned into an error by the catcher. Whittle advanced to third on the play and then came into score on a passed ball to put the game out of reach.

Kilgore scored their final run of the game on an error as Trevor Moon scored from third for the 7-2 finale. Moon went 2-for-3 with a run scored and two doubles.

Diamond allowed two runs on five hits with six strikeouts and one walk in the complete-game victory.

"Brittan is a competitor," Hammack said. "Sometimes in big games his adrenaline can be so high that he does not relax and just throw the ball. I thought he was throwing harder in the sixth-and-seventh then he was earlier in the game. Once he gets going and he gets a lead, he is definitely hard to beat."

Offensively, the Wildcats were led by Beck, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI, while Abner went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Jackson, Dunn, Gant, Mabe, Barrows and Whittle each recorded hits in the game.

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