Friday, July 22, 2011

SPORTS>>Cabot drops two in final, gets second

Leader sports writer

The Cabot Centennial Senior American Legion team went into Wednesday night’s Zone 3 championship game with North Little Rock virtually on top of the world.

Cabot already had a spot locked up for state, and by coming through the winners’ bracket unscathed, would have to be defeated twice by the Colts for the Colts to win the title. And heading into the eighth inning of the first game leading 4-1, Cabot was still sitting pretty.

That’s when the house of cards came tumbling down, with the Colts coming back to win 5-4 and taking game two 14-5 to capture the zone crown and give Cabot the second seed in state.

“We’ve been on kind of a roll lately, but we made some bad mistakes in both games,” said Cabot coach Jay Darr. “And I have to take the blame for that. We have all the talent we need, but I guess I just didn’t get them ready for tonight.”

Both losses came in the most unlikely of fashions for a senior legion team. The winning run scored on a balk in the opening game, while the second game took less than 2 1\2 hours to complete despite the 19 combined runs as Cabot outhit North Little Rock despite being heavily outscored.

After a scoreless first three innings of the first game, Matt Evans put Cabot on the board first with a long homer to lead off the top of the fourth inning. Tyler Erickson reached on a walk and would later come around to score on an error.

Erickson was doing his job on the bump for Cabot as well, scattering four hits while shutting down North Little Rock over the first five innings. The Colts finally broke through for their first run in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to a leadoff error and a follow-up double.

That was no problem, as Cabot came back in the top of the next inning with two more runs to take a 4-1 lead. Brandon Surdam and Casey Vaughn led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Back at the top of the order, the next three went downin order, but drove in Surdam and Vaughn in the process, giving Cabot extra insurance runs.

Erickson showed no signs of tiring in the bottom of the seventh, retiring the side in order, including a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.

Up 4-1, it didn’t seem so big at the time, but Cabot missed what turned out to be an important scoring opportunity in the top of the eighth inning. Andrew Reynolds, Jeff Brown and Dylan Wilson drew consecutive one-out walks to load the bases, but a 5-2-3 double-play ended the scoring threat.

The bottom of the eighth started out rocky and only got worse from there. John Chapman was hit by a pitch with two strikes, and was followed by a double by Tyson Tackett to put runners on second and third. Brittain Ibbottson singled both runners in to cut Cabot’s lead to 4-3, but was picked off for the first out.

Dillon Richardson doubled for the Colts, signaling the end of a very solid night of work by Erickson. Brown was brought in to try to put out the fire and earn a save.

He immediately got a ground out to second for the second out, but that moved the tying run to third base. With Wes Freeland at the plate, a passed ball allowed the runner to score from third, then Freeland was hit to put the go ahead run on base. A grounder by Alex Philbuck could have ended the inning, but another error let him reach first and pushed Freeland to third. A balk just a few seconds later forced the Colt home, making the score 5-4. A fly ball to second ended the inning.

Vaughn led off the ninth with a walk and was quickly sacrificed to second. Goff grounded to short, who had time to nail Vaughn trying to take third on the hit for the second out. A line drive to left field ended the game.

The second game of the night looked like it would be a slugfest after North Little Rock opened the first inning with five runs and was answered by Cabot’s four runs in the bottom half. Unfortunately for Cabot, they wouldn’t score again until Goff launched a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Cabot outhit North Little Rock 10-8, but too many walks, errors and mental miscues allowed the Colts to take advantage of every hit they had. After the first inning,

Goff was 2 for 4 with a homer and two runs, while Matt Evans was 3 of 4 with a double. Erickson, Surdan and Chip Morris each singled for Cabot.

Cabot will face the Texarkana Razorbacks in their opening game of the Arkansas American Legion senior State Tournament. This is the third consecutive season for Cabot to make the state tournament. They were knocked out by Texarkana last year after earning a pair of wins.