’Cats fall short in state title quest

The Whitewater Wildcats came up two runs short in their quest for the AAAAA state baseball championship.

Playing as the visiting team in their own ballpark, the Wildcats jumped out to an early lead in the third game of the championship series, but they couldn’t hold off the Houston County Bears’ bats and fell 8-6 Tuesday afternoon before an overflow crowd of passionate baseball fans.

Whitewater led 3-0 before the opposition even came up to bat, as Jacob Wilkinson led off the game with a walk, Brandon Bell singled and Nick Fuerstenau blasted a three-run homer.

The Bears got a run in the second against starter Jordan Holmes and loaded the bases with one out, but he got out of trouble with a strikeout and a groundout.

The Wildcats loaded the bases in the third and got a run when Bell scored on Caleb Norton’s single to center, but a great throw to the plate got Fuerstenau. However, the Whitewater lead was three runs once again.

That changed for good in the bottom of the fourth, when Houston County exploded for six runs. The big blast was a grand slam to right by Hunt Smith.

But Whitewater wasn’t finished.

After Fuerstenau and Taylor Turner reached base, Norton drove a pitch over the centerfielder’s head for a two-run triple to cut the lead to 7-6.

Norton was stranded at third, one of seven Wildcats left on base in the game.

Josh Profit gave the Bears some breathing room in the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot over the fence in center.

The Wildcats got two runners on base in the seventh, but one was erased on a 4-6-3 double play and the Bears got the final out on a grounder back to the mound.

Whitewater finished the 2014 season with a record of 31-8.