Tough Loss: Wildcats out-hit Poteet but fall in Game 1; look to even series tonight with Diamond on the mound

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

May 9, 2008 - MESQUITE - Sulphur Springs proved on Thursday night they can hang with the top teams in the state.

In Game 1 of their best-of-three, Class 4A, Region II area-round series against the No. 2-ranked Mesquite Poteet Pirates, the Wildcats (15-11) out-hit Poteet 5-4, but in the end lost 5-1 at the James Copeland Baseball Field.

"I was disappointed in the fact that we did not give them our best effort," said SSHS coach Jerrod Hammack. "I don't mind losing if a team is just better than us. We started out in the first inning making mistakes that we do not normally make.

"We had two tough errors in the first inning that gave them the three runs and Kevin was not as sharp as he has been this season. He normally doesn't walk five guys in a game and I think we had three leadoff walks."

Senior Kevin Mabe took the loss pitching a complete game, four-hitter with five walks and three strikeouts.

Sulphur Springs looks to even the series tonight at 7:30 p.m. as they send Brittan Diamond to the mound, where he is undefeated at home this season. He comes into the game with a 6-3 record and a 1.91 ERA in 66 innings.

Mesquite Poteet (26-3) will counter with their ace Teddy Nowell, the Oklahoma signee, as he comes into the game with an 8-0 record.

"Hopefully, we can get a good crowd out there and it should be a good ballgame," the coach said. "There are going to be two really good pitchers out there and if Brittan is on like he usually is on then he is going to give them some trouble.

"This should be a good game and we like our chances. If we can get them to a third game, then we feel like we can win the series but tonight is paramount."

If a Game 3 is necessary, the two teams will head back to Mesquite for a 1 p.m. start tomorrow to decide who advances to face Nacogdoches or Forney in the regional quarterfinals next week.

On Thursday night, Mesquite Poteet's Jake Sutton smacked a triple to deep center field on the second pitch of the game and scored on a sacrifice fly from Zack Stanley for the 1-0 lead.

With two outs in the inning, Nowell reached first on a single and then scored on a passed ball. After a walk to Brett Doe, Doe came around to score from first on a wild pitch for the 3-0 lead.

The Wildcats cut into the deficit in the top of the second inning with a RBI single from Mabe as courtesy runner Shane McQueen came around to score from second.

The big play of the second inning came on a pick-off attempt on senior first baseman Dustin Gant. Poteet catcher J.T. Files threw down to Nowell at first, who applied the tag for the second out of the inning.

Hammack said the tag appeared to be late and could have been a turning point in the game.

"He was safe to me from the third base box, which was not even close from my view," Hammack said. "The umpire said that it was a good, quick tag and he saw daylight between the bag and Dustin's leg. He was right on top of the play but Dustin was on the base when the tag was made."

Poteet added a run in the fourth inning as Taylor Wilcox led off the inning with a walk, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Austin Blunt. Bradley Stone then rapped an RBI-double down the third base line for the 4-1 lead. The Pirates added a home run from Files in the fifth inning for the 5-1 finale.

"We outhit them and I thought after the first inning we played really good defense," the coach said. "It is disappointing that we were not at our best the entire game and I felt like we could win the game if we played error free."

Poteet pitcher's Johnnie Riley and Tyler Dowse held SSHS to five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. Riley picked up the win as he went 5 1/3 innings, while Dowse recorded four strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings of work.

"I thought we could have given him more run support," the coach said. "I thought we could have hit there guy better than we did.

"I thought the guy that came on in relief was effective against us. I don't know if they would come back with him on Saturday, which would be tough if we can chase his curveball and I think we can hit him if we sit back and wait on his fastball."

Brandon Whittle and Gant led the Wildcats as they went 1-for-2 respectively. Jeff Beck, Diamond and Mabe each went 1-for-3 with Mabe recording an RBI for the Wildcats.

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