Cats scratch out late runs to beat Yellow Jackets

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Sherman's Drake Dodder threw a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and a walk in the Bearcats' victory over rival Denison in District 10-5A action.

For two teams that have had nothing but close games to begin district play and nothing to show for it in the standings, it was no surprise the first meeting between Sherman and Denison had extra innings looming with a single run produced on each side.

Drake Dodder and Hunter Manning matched each other into the bottom of the sixth before Manning’s mounting pitch count and some shaky defense by the Yellow Jackets allowed Dodder to finish off a two-hitter as the Bearcats defeated Denison, 3-1, in District 10-5A action at Sherman High School.

Dodder allowed just three base runners — only one after the third inning — to give the Cats an opportunity to rally from an early deficit.

“He’s just an easygoing kid. So low-key. His last three outings have been phenomenal,” Sherman head coach Chris Anderson said. “I feel like Hunter had a pretty good rhythm going and he had a chance to do what Drake was doing.”

It took almost until the end for Sherman to come back and seven Denison errors helped. None of the runs Manning allowed were earned as he scattered five hits and two walks while striking out 10 in five and a third innings.

Cam Wheeler tripled and scored, Canaan Farley Jr. singled and Logan Tilley walked for Denison (7-11, 0-3), which plays at McKinney North on Friday night. The three district losses are by a combined six runs.

Luke Young was 2-for-3, Landon Gutierrez singled and scored twice and Logan Williams drove in a run for Sherman (8-8, 1-2), which hosts Lovejoy on Friday.

Sherman produced the deciding runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Bearcats got consecutive singles with one out from Gutierrez, Brandon Fine and Young with the last being a bunt towards third which loaded the bases.

Denison played the infield in and Gabe Blankenship hit a hard one-hopper to short. Ty Kirkbride came home for the force but his low throw pulled Brendon Wolf off the plate and Sherman took the lead.

With Manning at 107 pitches, Denison turned to Remington Gibson for the final two outs. Williams provided an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to center.

Dodder didn’t need the cushion — he struck out the side to finish off the victory and retired the final 11 Jackets he faced. All but one of his nine strikeouts came in that stretch.

Before that it was a frustrating night for at the plate for the Bearcats, who stranded seven in scoring position

A pair of errors allowed Williams to be on second to begin the fifth and then he tagged up on Connor Clark’s flyout to right. Manning kept the game deadlocked with a pair of strikeouts.

Sherman had tied the game at one in the bottom of the fourth. Gutierrez reached on an error to start the inning and Young bunted for a hit with one out.

On the play, Gutierrez continued to an unoccupied third base and Young went over to an unoccupied second. Manning nearly got out of the jam. After a strikeout, Gutierrez nearly got thrown out trying to retreat to the bag after he started for home on a pitch that didn’t get very far away from Wolf.

Ethan Jaresh flubbed Wolf’s throw to third and Gutierrez scored. Young was thrown out trying to scramble back to second to end the inning.

In the top of the fourth, Farley Jr. singled up the middle with one out and stole second but was stranded after Dodder got a strikeout and pop-up.

Manning labored through the first two innings, needing 46 pitches to navigate the six outs, but he kept the Bearcats off the board.

“I think there was stuff on the front end that helped us out on the back end,” Anderson said. “I knew they were frustrated. We got his pitch count up early and we had to keep grinding out at-bats.”

Sherman stranded five to that point, including a pair in scoring position in the second.

They got there with one out — Fine singled, Young reached on an error as he was sacrificing and then there was a double steal — before Williams and Clark struck out.

Sherman left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first. Clark had a one-out single to left, Tate Bethel followed with a full-count walk and they both moved up on a double steal.

Manning got a strikeout before Landen Brand walked on a full count but the right-hander struck out Gutierrez to keep the Jackets in front.

Denison's lone run came three batters into the game. Wheeler tripled to the right-center fence with one out and Peyton Johnson drove him in with a groundout to short.

“I felt like we didn’t go into panic mode,” Anderson said. “If we kept plugging away something was going to go our way.”

District 10-5A

Sherman                           3

Denison                            1