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The Paris Wildcats were picked to finish dead last in this year’s District 13-3A baseball race. They didn’t. Instead, they booked an unexpected journey into the Class 3A playoffs with a gritty, 4-3 win over the Atlanta Rabbits Monday night at Texas High.
The win settled the No. 4 seed after the two teams tied with 4-6 records in district play. Paris, now 15-12-1 overall, advances to the bi-district round vs. the state’s 16th-ranked Crandall Pirates, the champion from District 14.
That best-of-3 series will be played at Royse City. Game 1 is set for 7 p.m. Friday, and Game 2 will be at 1 p.m. Saturday. A third game, if needed, follows Game 2.
Paris and Atlanta split their district series with each team winning at home. Atlanta won the district opener, 2-1, and Paris took the rematch, 1-0. Wildcat senior Jake Clark (7-4) started both games, and he was on the mound again for the play-in match.
Clark gave up 10 hits, but walked no batters and struck out 10, including 7 Rabbs in the final 3 innings. Atlanta, meanwhile, started Chase Musgrove after going with Jeffery Thomas and B. J. Hammonds in the first two outings.
The Cats tagged Musgrove for 3 runs in the first inning, including an RBI double by Drew Helberg followed by a 2-run double from Jack Kraft. Atlanta tied the score in the third when the Rabbs bunched 5 singles.
Paris scored the game-winner in the fifth. Freshman Phillip Sikes started the frame with a leadoff, 4-pitch walk. He ended up at third on an error off an unsuccessful pickoff attempt. With 2 outs, Helberg’s infield single brought Sikes home with the winning run.
Helberg, the junior lefty who has been Paris’ most clutch hitter during district play, was 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI. His Atlanta counterpart in centerfield, Logan Vise, topped the Rabbs with a 4-for-4 night as the Rabbits’ Nos. 2-3-4 hiters provided 8 of the team’s 10 hits.