Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SPORTS >> Beebe bats best Cabot in a breeze

Leader sportswriter

Gilliam Field looked more like Chicago’s Wrigley Field as host Beebe beat Cabot 11-6 in a wind-blown non-conference game Friday.

Beebe (15-3) overcame a one-run deficit with an eight-run fifth, taking advantage of six Cabot walks to take command.

Wind gusts of over 35 miles per hour made the early evening game rough on players and spectators alike.

Many Badger fans left the high stands behind home plate during the second inning and some watched from their vehicles parked behind the first-base fence while the visiting Cabot fans toughed out the conditions better suited for the Windy City.

The heavy gusts also set the stage for some big hits, as Cabot hit three home runs while Beebe senior shortstop Griffin Glaude put his team ahead for good with a three-run shot to center in the big fifth to give the defending 5A state champions a 6-4 lead.

Cabot jumped to an early lead with a three-run home run by right fielder Daniel Fox in the top of the second, and a solo shot to right by first baseman Bryson Morris in the top of the third gave the Panthers a 4-1 lead.

“They changed pitchers, and we started taking better at-bats,” Beebe coach Mark Crafton said. “We kind of came up with some big hits, and played good defense.”

Beebe’s Jared Ashbrenner earned the victory on the mound for the Badgers.

Cabot used the non-conference game to work out a pair of underclassmen pitchers among the four the Panthers used. Sophomore Dustin Morris, known as “Chipper” for his likeness to the Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones, worked the first three innings until senior center fielder Brandon Surdam took over in the fourth.

“He did a great job,” Fitch said of Morris. “What happens is, these non-conference games, you certainly want to win them, but you want certain guys to stay sharp for that next big conference game.

“We did that. I had it in my mind who I wanted to get work, and we got both of them in there.”

Senior Zach White pitched until Panthers coach Jay Fitch called on freshman Kason Kimbrell for the final inning.

Ashbrenner got things going for Beebe in the decisive fifth when he reached on an error at second by Jordan Castillow.

Brandon Stain walked and both runners scored when Glaude, a UCA signee, sent a Surdam pitch into the jet stream for a three-run home run over the wall in center field.

Tanner Ball then walked, Zach May reached on an error and Dakota Loveston walked to load the bases. Dillon Byrd sent Ball and May in with a single to right, and Vann Kersey loaded the bases again with another walk.

That returned Beebe to the top of the order, where Ashbrenner hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Loveston but forced Byrd at third for the second out.

Stain loaded the bases for Beebe again with a single, and Glaude and Ball drew walks to drive in the final two runs.

Cabot junior catcher Tyler Carter also hit a home run to center to lead off the top of the fifth inning. Cabot scored its final run in the seventh when Morris singled and scored on an RBI single by Carter.

Cleanup batter Tanner Ball scored Beebe’s first run in the bottom of the second when he singled to left and took second and third on passed balls. May, the senior third baseman, drove him in with a fielder’s choice grounder to second.

Glaude led off the fourth with a double to left and Ball tripled to drive him in. May drove in Ball to pull the Badgers within 4-3.

Byrd was 2 for 2 with two RBI while Ball was 2 for 2 with two runs scored. Glaude was 2 for 3 with a home run, three RBI and two runs.

For Cabot, Carter was 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBI while Morris was 2 for 4 with a home run and two runs.

The Badgers are 6-0 in 5A-Southeast Conference play, and talk of a return trip to Baum Stadium in Fayetteville to defend the state championship is picking up.

“We’re doing pretty well,” Crafton said.

“We lost a couple early that we thought we should have won in our minds, but it was also a wake-up call of what we needed to be doing, and the kids have been responding.”