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Hicks’ big night propels Decatur to Game 1 win

By Reece Waddell | Published Friday, May 11, 2018.
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Decatur and Princeton found themselves locked in a scoreless pitcher’s duel for the first three innings Friday night.

Then in the bottom of the fourth, Wilson Hicks decided to help his own cause.

Decatur celebrates its 3-2 victory over Princeton in Game 1 of the 4A Region II area round. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt.

Hicks teed off on a fastball that Princeton starter Austin Hitchcock left over the middle of the plate for a solo home run to right field. Hicks’ blast ignited the Eagles’ bats in a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of the 4A Region II area series at Hebron.

“[Hitchcock] threw me a first-pitch curveball that missed, so I thought he was going to come back with a fastball and he did,” Hicks said. “He left it middle-in and I turned on it.”

The solo shot gave Decatur a 1-0 lead behind Hicks’ dominant pitching. The junior southpaw tossed a complete-game, scattering two runs on six hits. He struck out six.

With the tying run on third and two outs in the top of the seventh, Hicks fanned Princeton second baseman Nate Gonzalez to secure the win.

“It’s who he is,” said Decatur coach Tommy Maddox of Hicks. “He loves to compete and loves to be in that situation. He’s a guy that can keep his cool when things start going crazy. The last pitch of the night was probably his best pitch.”

The Eagles scored their other two runs in the bottom of the fifth. After an Alec Uselton single put runners at the corners, right fielder Bodi Rascon drove in a run on a suicide squeeze. Rascon beat out the throw to first.

Hicks then drew a walk to load the bases and catcher Dayne Chapman plated a run on an infield single to make it 3-0.

Hitchcock threw a complete-game in the loss and gave up three runs on nine hits over six innings. He struck out eight.

The first time through Decatur’s order, the Eagles managed just two hits off him.

“We were just battling,” Hicks said. “The second or third time through the lineup is really hard [for a pitcher]. We were just breaking [Hitchcock] down a little bit and were able to put a few good at-bats together and scratch across some runs.”

Princeton got a run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI-double by center fielder Tristan Gee. The Panthers added another run in the seventh on a passed ball, but were unable to complete the rally.

Decatur and Princeton meet again at noon Saturday in Game 2. Game 3, if necessary, would immediately follow. The winner of this series plays the winner of Krum and Crandall in the 4A Region II quarterfinal.

“I think in a three-game series, Game 1 is so pivotal,” Maddox said. “It’s a big win for us but we have a lot of work left to do. We have to show up tomorrow morning with the same approach as today and try to take care of business.”

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