The bats weren’t working, but the pitching and fielding were, and it was enough to lead Cabot’s Centennial Bank senior team to a 2-1 victory over the Conway Cougars on Monday night at the Cabot city park.
Conway’s fielding left a lot to be desired. Cabot scored only one unearned run, but it was all Cabot pitcher Chipper Morris needed. Morris went the distance, giving up eight base hits. He struck out just two in the first five innings, but grew stronger in the final two, fanning four more in the last two, including striking out the side in the sixth, to secure the one-run lead and the win.
Cabot fill-in coach Craig Niborg was impressed with Morris’ performance.
“He wasn’t even scheduled to pitch tonight,” Niborg said. “The guy who was said he didn’t think he was quite ready to go. Chipper stepped in there, said he could do it, so we put him on the mound. I didn’t expect him to throw the whole game, but he did a good job of getting the pop ups and the strikeouts when he needed them. And Andrew (Reynolds) did a great job of throwing a couple of runners out that got on base.”
In the second inning, Reynolds caught a lone runner trying to steal second for the second out, but the big one came in the final frame with Conway trying to rally.
The Cougars put together back-to-back, one-out base hits, but Reynolds got the speedy Conway leadoff hitter at second for the second out. The very next batter grounded out to third to end the game.
Morris pitched out of jams in the fourth and fifth innings.
In the fourth, Conway put runners on second and third with no outs. Morris got a ground out to first base, where Casey Vaughan was playing in and kept the runner at third from advancing.
The next batter popped foul down the first baseline, between first and home. Reynolds made the catch for the second out.
Home plate was left uncovered, but the Conway runner failed to seize the opportunity to score. Morris struck out the next batter to end the threat.
The next inning, Conway got three straight base hits to load the bases with one out. A groundout to short scored a run, and a fly ball to right field ended the inning.
Cabot’s two runs came in the third. Matt Evans walked and Morris laid a bunt down the first baseline that should have been a sacrifice to advance the runner, but no one covered first. No one covered third either, allowing Evans to advance all the way to third on the bunt. Brandon Surdam then hit a fly ball to right field deep enough to score Evans.
Reynolds walked to put runners on first and second. Tyler Erickson then grounded to short for what might’ve been an inning-ending double play, but the shortstop flubbed the play, allowing Morris to score for the 2-0 Cabot lead.
Dillon Wilson then laid down a bunt and Conway again failed to cover the corners, leaving everyone safe, but Vaughan hit into a 5-4-1 double play that got Conway out of the jam.
The two runs in the fourth were the last Cabot threat. The Centennial squad’s last nine batters from the fourth through the sixth went down in order.
The win, combined with a weekend loss at Russellville on Saturday, leaves Cabot 10-6 overall and 4-2 against Zone 3 competition. Cabot was scheduled to play Sylvan Hills last night after Leader deadlines, and begins play in the Jacksonville Fourth of July Classic at 5:30 today against Sheridan. Look for details of those games in Saturday’s Leader.