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The Paris Wildcats suffered their third one-run loss in district play Tuesday night when a combination of walks, lack of clutch hitting, and base-running gaffes spelled doom in a 5-4 loss to the Pittsburg Pirates on Senior Night at Hub Hollis Field.
District co-leaders Pleasant Grove and North Lamar remain atop district standings with 5-2 marks following shutouts Tuesday. PG beat Atlanta, 2-0, and NL blitzed Liberty-Eylau, 14-0. There’s now a 3-way tie for third at 3-4 among Paris, Atlanta, and Pittsburg, but the Pirates own any head-to-head tiebreaker over Paris for playoff positioning due to their sweep of this season’s district series.
The Cats travel to Texarkana Friday to face PG, host the Panthers Tuesday in the home finale at Hub Hollis, then return to Texarkana on April 25 to close the regular season at L-E (2-5).
Paris out-hit the Pirates, 7-5, and Pitt committed 4 errors compared to 1 for the Cats, but a rough start put the Cats in a 3-0 hole. Freshman Phillip Sikes walked the bases loaded in the first inning, then surrendered a 2-out, bases-clearing double on a full count with the runners moving.
The Cats scored their first run in the bottom of the first when Jake Clark was picked off first only to motor home on an errant throw in the run-down.
The lone official Paris error along with a mental error when a popup was allowed to drop in the outfield and a balk helped Pitt extend the lead to 5-1 in the third inning.
The Cats closed within 5-3 with a pair of runs in the fourth. Sikes drove in a run with a double down the third-base line, and Clark had a gift RBI on a fly ball that landed among 4 Pirate fielders in short leftfield.
They added another run in a seventh-inning rally that began with another Pitt error. Jonathan Nichols drove in the run on a single past third base to cut the gap to 5-4, but, fittingly, the game ended when a pinch runner was picked off second base.
Paris, now 13-10-1 overall, was led in hitting by Helberg and Nichols with a pair of singles each. Sikes (2-3) pitched the first 4 innings and allowed 4 hits with 4 walks while striking out six. Helberg pitched the final 3 innings in relief and shut down the Pirates on 1 hit, 2 walks with a strikeout.
Pittsburg starter Garrett Truitt was relieved in the seventh inning by Brandon Colbert.