Friday, July 06, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers pound Cougars at zone

Leader sports editor

Cabot Junior Team 1 had little trouble in the first round of the Zone 3 Junior American Legion on Friday afternoon. The Panthers jumped ahead early with four runs in the top of the first inning and blew it wide open with nine runs in the top of the fifth to win beat the Conway Cougars 14-1.

The Panthers got four runs on just three hits in the first, but began to hit the ball hard for the next four innings. They only managed to find the gaps a couple of times and scored just one run in the second through fourth innings. Cabot coach Chris Gross’s message to the team was to just keep swinging the bats.

“We were just hitting it hard all game long,” Gross said. “We were just hitting it right to them early on. I just told them keep doing what they’re doing and those hits will start to fall.”

Gross’s confidence proved true as his club battered Conway in the fifth inning.

Pitcher Riley Knudsen started things with a leadoff double down the left-field line. Dalton Hurst walked and Gavin Tillery singled to shallow centerfield to load the bases. Austin Null then singled to right field to drive in two runs. Eric Pique then put down a bunt single to shortstop that scored Tillery from third.

With one out and back at the top of the lineup, Adam Hicks singled to left to drive in two more runs. After the second out, four more batters got on base consecutively, starting with Tristan Bulice who reached after getting hit by a pitch.

Knudsen came back to the plate to single to right field for another RBI. Hurst got another RBI with a single to centerfield and Lee Sullivan followed suit by driving an RBI single to left batting for Knudsen.

Knudsen was dominant on the mound, giving up just two hits while striking out and walking three apiece. Conway’s best inning was the first when it got its only run off one hit.

“He was really just working at about 80 percent too,” Gross said. “I just told him to go out there, take it easy and throw strikes. He was big for us because we’re in the winner’s bracket and we haven’t thrown our one or two.”

Knudsen walked leadoff hitter Brian Vernon and Joe Botsky singled to centerfield. Mike Parnell walked to load the bases with no outs. Knudsen got cleanup hitter Mitch Strange to hit a groundball to second base, but bobbled fielding the ball making it a 4-6 fielder’s choice and allowed the run to score.

With runners on the corners with one out, Conway’s Jake Williams hit a hard line drive to second base where Dylan Bowers made the catch and threw to first to double up Strange and get Knudsen out of the jam.

“That was really the only trouble he got into the whole game,” Gross said. “It was a pretty good overall game. We had two errors, but we threw it well and we hit well.”

Team 1 will have Tillery on the mound in its second round game against the Sylvan Hills-Cabot 2 winner.