Friday, March 16, 2012

SPORTS >> Panthers beaten by Pointers, Cyclones

Leader sports editor

The Cabot baseball team has suffered a tough week of play. The Panthers dropped their conference opener 1-0 at Van Buren on Tuesday, then fell 11-1 at home to Russellville on Thursday to fall to 0-2 early in the conference season.

“We’re just not swinging the bats like we were early on,” Cabot coach Jay Fitch said. “The pitching overall has been a little better than I was expecting, but we still have to score more than zero runs.”

After Tuesday’s loss, junior right hander Ryan Logan held both of Cabot’s losses, despite pitching well.

“We’ve gotten him one total run in his last two starts,” Fitch said. “We’ve lost those games 2-1 and 1-0. I’m very pleased with how Ryan’s pitching. We have to give him some help, any of them for that matter. We have to start scoring runs again.”

Van Buren’s lone, game-winning run was unearned. Logan gave up just two hits to the Pointers, but both came in the same inning. With one out, two strikes and runners on first and third, a Van Buren batter whiffed on a squeeze bunt, striking out and leaving the runner at third stranded over halfway to home plate. Cabot catcher T.C. Carter rose and threw to third instead of instigating a rundown, allowing the base runner to score. The runner on first tried to get to second, but was thrown out from third to end the inning.

Thursday’s loss to Russellville started going wrong in the second inning, then fell apart in the fifth.

Tied at one in the third, Cabot first baseman Zachary Patterson dropped a low throw that would have been the third out, allowing two runs to score to make it 3-1.

No one scored again until the fifth inning, when Russellville put eight on the board to end the game early. Base hits, walks and a couple more Panther errors aided the Cyclone’s victory.

“It’s like that play in the third inning just took the wind out of our sails,” Fitch said. “We just didn’t seem to have any energy after that.

“This team is young, but they were ultra young last year and just kept getting better and better. This year it seems like we’ve regressed the last three games. I told the varsity that starting jobs are going to be up for grabs.”

Cabot, 5-3 overall, begins play in the 16-team, three-location Central Arkansas Invitational next Thursday. The tournament will be played at Lamar Porter Field in Little Rock, Little Rock Christian Academy and Benton High School.

The Panthers open the tournament against Vilonia at Benton at 2:30 p.m.