Friday, July 23, 2010

SPORTS>>Cabot stops Benton in Legion first round

Leader sportswriter

Benton is a team notorious for comebacks, but Cabot Centennial Bank cut off the McClendon’s appliance team after two runs in the top of the ninth for a 10-7 victory in the first round of the American Legion senior state tournament at Vince De Salvo Stadium in Burns Park on Friday.

Cabot (23-11) got off to a fast start with three runs in the bottom of the first before breaking the game open with a four-run fourth to make it 7-3.

Centennial Bank pushed its lead to 9-3 in the bottom of the fifth, but starting pitcher Matt Evans finally wore out in the top of the eighth to bring Powell Bryant to the mound, and Benton adjusted quickly with four runs in the final two innings.

“That team is dangerous,” Cabot coach Jay Darr said. “We’ve played them twice, and they’re never out of it. They swing it well enough, and they always have good pitching. So it was a good one for the program.”

Evans walked Blake Childress and Joshua Creel to start the eighth, and Darr went to the mound but left Evans in. Evans then hit Brantley Abbott to load the bases with no outs, and this time, Darr brought in Bryant.

Childress and Creel scored on groundouts before Bryant struck out Steven Brooks to end Benton’s at-bat and leave a man stranded.

Benton cut further into the lead during its final at-bat when Austin Pfeiffer led off with a double to right and No. 9 hitter Austin Southworth hit a Bryant fastball over the left field fence for a two-run home run.

But Bryant refocused and struck out two of the last three he faces, while also inducing a popup to first, to lift Cabot into the winners bracket.

“Their No. 9, that’s the second home run he’s hit in the ninth inning of a ballgame two games in a row,” Darr said. “He’s legit, and their whole lineup is, so they showed a lot of fight to not give up in the end, and we had to bear down on the mound and make some pitches.”

Evans’ crowning moment on the mound came in the top of the fifth after Cabot’s three-run fourth. Benton loaded the bases with a walk, a double and a hit batter, but with two outs, Evans struck out Creel swinging to strand all three.

“Evans pitched through some innings where he had base runners,” Darr said. “He gave us a chance to win the ballgame in the end. I think we hit the ball consistently all game long. Their pitchers were in the zone, so that helped us out a little bit.”

Joe Bryant was 3 for 5 with a double, two RBI and two runs. Ty Steele was 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI for Cabot.

Benton leadoff batter Garrett Parker put up the first run in the top of the first when he walked and scored on Pfeiffer’s single to right field. Pfeiffer tried to advance to second but was tagged out in a rundown.

Cabot responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning.

Steele singled with one out, Matt Turner doubled and Steele scored on Matt Evans’ sacrifice fly to center. Tyler Erickson walked and Andrew Reynolds drove in Turner with a single to right and Cole Nicholson singled up the middle to drive in Erickson and make it 3-1.