Friday, June 01, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Junior Centennial Bank teams battle

Leader sportswriter

There was no doubt Cabot would be victorious in both games.

Judging from the difference in experience between the two Centennial Bank junior American Legion teams, there was also little doubt which Cabot team it was going to be as Cabot 1 put its superior pitching and batting on display in a pair of routs over Cabot 2, 11-2 and 9-1 at Cabot Community Park in an American Legion Central Zone doubleheader on Wednesday.

Cabot 1, led by coach Chris Gross, took modest leads early in both games, and held their in-club foes scoreless for the most part before putting each game out of contention in the latter frames.

Cabot 2, led by coach Greg Frantal, had much of the shakes and inconsistency to be expected from a team still heavy on player development. Starting pitcher Jessie George struggled at times in the first game with inconsistent placement, but also showed flashes of strength by fanning some of the other Cabot’s best sluggers.

Pitching for Cabot 1 Gross went much smoother as Glover Helpenstill took the victory in the first game while Landon James earned a complete-game win in the nightcap.

“They played pretty well,” Gross said. “We have a lot older guys than the other team – they’ve got some pretty young guys. We did pretty good with our pitching and the guys who started.”

James got things going for team Gross when he walked to lead off the bottom of the second inning and quickly stole his way to third before reaching home plate on a passed ball for the first score. Daulton Hurst then singled to right and Jonathan Latture walked before Austin Null drove in both runners with a single up the middle to give Cabot 1 a 3-0 lead.

Null added to the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. He singled to lead off the inning, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball, finally reaching home on a RBI single dribbler by leadoff hitter Eric Pigue.

Opportunities were fewer for team Frantal as Helpenstill helped himself to dominance on the mound early with eight strikeouts through the first four innings. He did give up three walks during that time, but the defense behind him answered the call and either forced the runners out or left them stranded.

Cabot 2 finally got on the board in the top of the fifth when Ethan Holland walked to lead off the inning and later scored on a passed ball to make it 4-1.

That was as close as they came, however, as team Gross reeled off three hits and received three walks in the bottom of the fifth inning against a succession of struggling pitchers to build an 8-1 lead.

Null and Trent Frizzle scored two of those runs, and both added another score in the bottom of the sixth off singles. Frizzle drove in Null and came home three batters later when Riley Knudson doubled to center to make it 10-2. Jess Reed had singled to left center just before that, and set the final margin when James reached on an infield error.

Null was 4 for 4 for Cabot 1 with four singles, three runs and two RBI.

The Gross team moved to 4-1 with the pair of wins but fell to Pine Bluff 9-1 on Thursday night. Team Frantal now stands at 0-5.

Many of the players on team Gross are back from a solid run last year in which Cabot qualified for the state tournament. The coach said he believes that with more muscle both on the mound and at the plate, the group can make even more noise this year.

“Our first loss was in our first game against Benton, and we lost that one 3-2,” Gross said. “We had to work out the kinks some; we went into that game with only one day of practice prior to it. They are coming together as a team, and I’m excited about this season.”

Team 2 played at White Hall last night while Team 1 will play at Sylvan Hills today at 2 p.m.