Friday, April 16, 2010

SPORTS >> Van Buren trips Cabot to take lead in Central

Leader sportswriter

Van Buren steered its way out of a logjam to the top of the 7A-Central Conference standings with a 10-1 rout of Cabot at Brian Wade Conrade Field on Thursday.

Cabot (10-6, 3-4) was trying to force a five-way tie but found hitting Van Buren’s Tyler Spoon difficult as the Pointers (11-7, 5-2) took possession of first.

Van Buren held a one-game lead over Russellville, Conway and North Little Rock, all at 4-3, entering Friday. Cabot was in a three-way tie for fifth with Little Rock Catholic and Little Rock Central, while Bryant was in last place at 2-5.

Spoon gave up only three hits, working his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fourth inning with the Pointers holding a 1-0 lead.

Van Buren scored four runs in the top of the fifth to take control, and doubled its lead with five runs in the top of the seventh. Seven of the Pointers’ 10 runs were earned.

Senior centerfielder Joe Bryant saved Cabot from a shutout in the bottom of the seventh when he drove in Ty Steele with a groundout to shortstop. Steele started the at-bat for Cabot with the Panthers’ second hit off Spoon and he advanced on a single by Brandon Surdam.

Cabot’s only other hit was byNo. 2 hitter Andrew Reynolds in the bottom of the first inning with one out. But Spoon got Matt Evans to pop out and cleanup batter Tyler Erickson to ground out and strand Reynolds.

The Panthers threatened to seize momentum in the fourth inning.

Cabot starter Cole Nicholson prevented a second Van Buren score after Allen Kino reached on an error to lead off the inning and made his way to third. Nicholson then induced a pop-up and a pair of groundouts.

Spoon gave up his only walk to Reynolds leading off the bottom of the fifth. Evans advanced Reynolds with a grounder to first that bounced off Parker Johnson’s glove and into right field.

Spoon struck out Erickson for the first out but hit Justin Tyler with a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.

Spoon kept his composure to strike out Steele, then Johnson made up for his earlier error with a diving catch of Surdam’s liner between first and second.

Things turned ugly for the Panthers in the top of the fifth when Nicholson surrendered four straight hits, including Kino’s double to center field that scored two runs. Nicholson then hit Garrett Hightower and was relieved by Chase Beasley, who held Van Buren scoreless until the top of the seventh when the Pointers got him for four hits and five runs.