Friday, July 14, 2006

SPORTS >> Cabot handles Vilonia, gets ready for zone

Leader staff writer

Home Depot improved its season record to 12-17 with a 8-5 win over Vilonia in a Class AA game Monday night in Vilonia. Cabot held the Eagles scoreless until the fourth inning, while building a 5-0 lead in the process.

Cabot used three different pitchers in the contest to get the win. Tyler Sorrells got the win through four innings. Sorrells gave up two earned runs and struck out three batters. Blake Passmore held the mound until the final inning, which was finished up by ace lefty Justin Haas.

“I thought overall that they all did an outstanding job for us,” Cabot coach Andy Runyan said. “Tyler Sorrells really kept them off balance early. They really couldn’t get a good gauge on how he was mixing his pitches.”

Haas got the save by retiring the side in the final inning after giving up a single walk to start the Eagle’s turn.

Tanner Burks led offensively for Home Depot with two doubles, two RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base. Daryl Murphy was 2 for 4 with an RBI and a walk.

As the young squad prepares for zone play next week, Runyan says the less-than-convincing season record now will pay big dividends in the near future.

Only two players will be ineligible for Legion league play in 2007, and all but one of them will return to be on the Panthers high school team in the spring.

Runyan is working close with Panthers coach Jay Fitch to build the Cabot baseball program to a new level, which means getting younger players field time against some of the state’s best.

“It’s something that coach Fitch and I have talked about, and we are both very excited about having this opportunity,” Runyan said. “None of us want to be 12-17, it’s frustrating. Our record is not a good reflection on how much great experience these kids have gained along the way.

“They are playing against some really strong competition, and they are also getting more experience playing baseball with each other. All of them minus one guy will be all the same players wearing a high school uniform next year.

“No one wants to lose a lot of games, but we keep telling them that all this experience and losing some of the close games like we have will be money in the bank next spring.”

As for the tournament at hand, Runyan says their success is reliant on consistency much more than talent when they head to Burns Park.

“It depends on which team decides to show up,” Runyan said. “If the team that beat Bryant and Pine Bluff shows up, I would put them up there with anybody. If the team that got shut out five out of six innings earlier this week, we could be in trouble.”

Home Depot entered the final week of regular season play last night with a doubleheader at Maumelle, followed by the final meeting of the year at home against Searcy Wednesday in what is scheduled as a double-header, but could be rescheduled as a single game.