Friday, June 08, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot routs Gwatney and Bruins

Leader sports editor

Cabot’s rough start to the season has smoothed out considerably as Centennial Bank picked up their third straight win with a 14-0 shutout over Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet in American Legion senior zone play Thursday at Dupree Park.

The win followed a 10-7 win at Hot Springs Lakeside on Tuesday and an 18-8 shellacking of Sylvan Hills at home on Wednesday.

Cabot (3-7) took an early 2-0 lead against Gwatney after one inning and kept the bats hot, scoring four runs in the top of the fourth and five in the sixth while starting pitcher Ryan Logan went the distance on the mound for Centennial Bank with a dominating performance.

“At the beginning, they were slow to start,” Cabot coach Craig Nyborg said of the seven-game losing streak to begin the season. “Now, they’re just coming around. Basically, our bats are coming around because our whole team has come together as one. They’re starting to realize that what you do in the dugout in being up and cheering for the guy at the plate is paying off. The guys have some confidence, and they’re just swinging it and hitting it well.”

Designated hitter T.C. Carter gave Centennial Bank a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning with a two-run home run over the left-field wall. Casey Vaughn managed to top that a frame later with a grand slam that gave Cabot an 8-0 lead and deflated what morale Jacksonville had left at that point.

“I mentioned to the guys that we need to start bonding as a team,” Nyborg said. “I told them it was up to them to figure it out, and the result is three straight wins. I just hope we can continue this.”

Logan gave up five total hits to Gwatney, including three singles in the bottom of the third inning to load the bases before Cabot’s defense held them without a score. That ended up as the closest call for Logan, who struck out two batters and allowed no walks through six innings.

“He’s a soft-tossing lefty,” Nyborg said. “And he thinks he throws gas sometimes. But I told him to take about four miles-per-hour off for tonight’s game and just see what happens. That was the result; he pitched awesome. His curveball was working, the fastball on the outside corner was awesome. I was very pleased with what he did today.”

Bryson Morris scored the first run for Cabot in the top of the first when he was hit by a pitch from Jacksonville starter Xavier Brown and later crossed home on a passed ball. Vaughn singled to right and scored on a groundout by cleanup hitter Carter to give Centennial Bank a 2-0 lead after one.

Vaughn reached on an error to start the sixth, while a walk for Brandon Surdam and a single by Carter loaded the bases with one out. Justin Goff scored the first two runs with a single to right and Cole Thomas drove in Carter with a single grounder up the middle to give Cabot a 12-0 lead. Dustin Morris doubled to score Goff and Tyler Wilkie grounded out to third to bring in Thomas for the final run.

With the bats much improved and pitching taking shape, Nyborg said the main goal at this point is to enjoy the season.

“We’re just taking it one game at a time right now,” Nyborg said. “We’re just out here to have fun right now, and take it game by game.”

Vaughn was 3 for 3 with a grand slam, three RBI and three runs for Cabot. Dustin Morris was 3 for 4 with a RBI and Justin Goff was 2 for 3 with two RBI. Carter was 2 for 4 with a home run and two RBI.

On Wednesday, the Centennial Bank squad scored eight runs in the first inning off starting pitcher Conner Eller, Eller gave up base hits to the first six batters of the game, including a three-run home run to Carter. The Bruin defense didn’t help matters much, committing three errors in the inning to help keep the Cabot rally alive. The Bruins finished the game with eight errors.

Sylvan Hills began to chip away at the lead. The Bruins cut the margin to 9-4 in the fourth inning when J.D. Miller hit a two-run home run over the fence in right field. They scored four more in the top of the fifth to make it 9-8, but Cabot answered back. The home team scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth and three more in the sixth to end the game on the sportsmanship rule.

Cabot finished the game with 16 base hits. Goff led the way with four and reached base on every plate appearance.

The senior team’s next game will be a rematch with Jacksonville on Tuesday at Cabot City Park.