Wildcats fall in area round to Poteet

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

May 11, 2008 - Facing elimination in their best-of-three area round series with the No. 2-ranked Mesquite Poteet Pirates, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats season came to a close Friday night with a 7-5 loss in Game 2 at Eagle Stadium.

"Our kids are battlers and competitors," said SSHS coach Jerrod Hammack. "We did not play our best game and we made several mistakes with some errors tonight. Brittan (Diamond) walked a few more batters than he usually does in a game.

"You have to tip your hat to these kids because there is no give-up and no quit. They stood toe-to-toe with the No. 2 team in the state for two games. I truly believe had we not made the errors that we did tonight and in this series we would have swept them or had gone back for the third game."

In his final game at Eagle Stadium, Wildcats ace Brittan Diamond (6-4) took the loss pitching a complete game, five-hitter while walking five and striking out four.

"I don't know how many hits he gave up but it could not have been a lot of them," the coach said. "He had a few walks and some mistakes behind him and it is tough to see them go out like this."

Poteet (27-3) once again broke the game open in the first inning courtesy of a two-run home run by J.T. Files over the scoreboard in left field. He hit a home run in Game 1 of the series to the exact same spot against Kevin Mabe on Thursday. Files went 2-for-2 with one run scored and three RBI.

The Wildcats (15-12), meanwhile, found ways to get on base against Poteet ace Teddy Nowell, as he went four innings, allowing five runs on four hits with seven strikeouts and seven walks.

"I thought we could hit this kid and he has had a lot of press and is supposed to be really good," Hammack said about Nowell. "I thought the Texas High lefties prepared us for him and I think they are better than he is. I thought we could get to him and especially after Jeff Beck hit the single and then gets to third and said, 'Coach, this guy is like the guy from Kilgore."

SSHS cut into the deficit in the second inning as Josh Dunn opened the inning with a walk. Courtesy runner Shane McQueen then reached second on a balk by Nowell, advanced to third on an error and two batters later scored on a RBI single from Mabe.

Poteet scored two more runs in the fourth inning as courtesy runner Jon Eric Clark scored on a fielder's choice and Brad Foshee came into score on a throwing error for the 4-1 lead.

The Wildcats tied the game in the bottom half of the inning on two Pirates errors as they batted around against Nowell. The Wildcats did not record a hit in the inning as they took advantage of four walks and one hit batter.

After three consecutive walks to Dustin Gant, Mabe and Ben Barrows, courtesy runner Cedric Finnie scored on a pickoff attempt that went into the outfield on Mabe at second. Mabe then scored on a wild pitch for the 4-3 deficit and Barrows tied the game on a fly ball by Brandon Whittle as the center fielder misplayed it to tie the game. Beck then walked and Abner was hit by a pitch to load the bases with only one out.

Hammack said Nowell found a way to get out of the inning with strikeouts against Diamond and Jackson.

"I thought we were about to bust it open when we had Brittan up and Jace up with the bases loaded and one out," he said. "He did bear down and threw some good breaking balls to get us out and get him out of the inning."

Poteet landed the knockout blow in the fifth inning with three runs of their own on a sacrifice fly and two Wildcats errors for a 7-4 lead.

Beck and Gant each went 2-for-3 in their final game for the Wildcats, while Abner and Mabe had one hit each.

This was the last game for seniors Jeff Beck, Dalton Abner, Brittan Diamond, Josh Dunn, Dustin Gant, Kevin Mabe and Brandon Whittle.

"This is as good of a senior class as you are going to find anywhere around," Hammack said. "They are a classy group of men that carried themselves well this season. Our kids kept their composure and we are going to sorely miss this group and you can not fill those shoes."

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