Tuesday, April 03, 2012

SPORTS >> Bad fourth dooms Cabot

Leader sportswriter

This time, it was the fourth inning that proved to be the demise of Cabot as Little Rock Catholic scored five runs in the pivotal frame to defeat the Panthers 8-4 to earn its first 7A Central Conference victory of the season.

The Panthers (6-7, 0-4) turned in a decent batting performance and played solid defense for the first four and two-thirds innings, but a round of Rocket runs with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, including four unearned, created a gap that could not be overcome.

The loss was another in a pattern in which Cabot held its ground most of the game only to have one difficult inning that put them on the losing side of the scoreboard.

“It’s very frustrating; we feel like we could be 3-1 without some of the errors,” Cabot coach Jay Fitch said. “In this conference, everybody’s good, and one bad inning can cost you the game. We’re starting to swing the sticks well, we just have to play seven innings and not six.

“It is frustrating, but it’s also part of having a young team. We’ve told them that good teams consistently do things right, and that’s a key to winning.”

Cabot took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Zach Patterson put the first run on base with a double and advanced on a single by Scott Brunett. Justin Goff sent Patterson in with a sacrifice fly to right field to cut the margin to one.

Cabot held on to the lead until the bottom of the fourth, and had two outs against the Rockets when starting pitcher Chipper Morris hit one batter and had the next batter behind the count at 0-2 when a long fly to right center field was misplayed to score two runs. An infield error during the next at bat allowed another run in, and the Rockets took advantage of the breakdowns to put two more scores up to take a 5-1 lead.

Brunett walked in the top of the fifth and advanced to third on a pop out before starting Catholic pitcher Taylor Wallace was called for a balk to give him a free walk across the plate to score the Panthers’ second run to make it 5-2, but the Rockets answered that score in the bottom of the fifth.

“I think it can be with certain players,” Fitch said of frustration following mistakes becoming a factor. “We’ve got to guard against it. We tell them that baseball is a game of failure, if you do something the right way three out of 10 times, you’re doing awesome. You have to deal with failure, and some are better at dealing with it than others.”

The Panthers pulled to within two runs in the top of the sixth when Hayden Vinson reached second base on an infield error by Catholic and senior catcher T.C. Carter singled to put runners at first and second. Both runners advanced on a passed ball, and Casey Vaughn sent them both home with a double off the right centerfield wall.

The Panthers played at North Little Rock last night and will host Little Rock Central on Friday.