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Paris and Atlanta Meet Monday for Play-in Berth

Jake Clark with a pick-off attempt at first base against North Lamar.
Jake Clark with a pick-off attempt at first base against North Lamar.

The Paris Wildcats and Atlanta Rabbits meet Monday at Northeast Texas Community College (south of Mount Pleasant) to decide fourth place in District 13-3A baseball.  The loser sees their season end.  The winner faces the daunting task of a bi-district playoff pairing a few days later with 16th-ranked Crandall (21-5-1).

A very competitive district schedule ended Friday with Pleasant Grove (7-3) edging North Lamar (6-4) in the championship game.  Paris (4-6) was routed by last-place Liberty-Eylau (3-7), 11-4, and had to wait out the results of a 6-2 Pittsburg win over Atlanta to discover if the Cats’ season would be extended to Monday’s extra game.

While NL and Pitt tied with 6-4 records, the Panthers advance as the No. 2 seed by virtue of their season sweep of the Pirates.  Meanwhile, Paris and Atlanta tied for fourth at 4-6.  Atlanta won at home, 2-1, while Paris won the Hub Hollis rematch, 1-0.

The Monday tiebreaker figures to be a pitching rematch of the district opener: Senior Jake Clark (Paris) vs. junior Jeffery Thomas (Atlanta).   Neither pitcher was available for mound duty in Friday’s regular season finales, and it proved to be an Achilles’ heal for both teams.

Liberty-Eylau had already clinched the cellar, but the Leopards have one of district’s top pitchers in junior Javon Rigsby.  They gave him a 5-0 lead after the first inning and were cruising by 9-1 after two innings.  A trio of Cat pitchers: Starter Drew Helberg and relievers Kaden Callihan and Jordan Williams allowed a total of 11 Leopard hits, 6 walks, and the Paris defense tossed in 5 errors to boot.

A leadoff double in the second by Helberg followed by Philip Nance‘s RBI single scored the first Paris run.  The Cats closed to within 9-3 in the fourth on a bases-loaded, 2-out single by Callihan.

That was as close as they would get.  The Leopards scored their final two runs in the fifth, and Paris notched an additional run in the seventh on a Clark RBI double that drove in freshman Phillip Sikes.

Nance and Sikes each had a pair of hits for Paris, which fell to 14-12-1 overall.

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