Monday, June 17, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Centennial Bank slips past Benton

Leader sports writer

Benton’s Everett Buick-GMC junior American Legion team gave the Cabot White Centennial Bank junior team all it could handle in both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader matchup at the Cabot Baseball Complex, but the Centennial Bank squad won both games – narrowly.

Cabot (12-3) held a late charge by Benton in the first part of the twinbill to win 6-4. In the second game, Benton was one out away from leaving with a win, but Cabot’s three-hole hitter Adam Hicks hit a two-run, walk-off inside the park home run to give the home team an exhilarating 8-7 victory.

The second game was plagued with errors on both sides and the lead changed hands five times. Cabot trailed 7-6 heading into the sixth and final inning. Right-fielder Jess Reed led off the inning, and with two strikes, he hit a routine grounder to shortstop, but the ball bounced through Benton shortstop Alec Schilling’s legs, leaving Reed safe at first.

However, Benton was able to get outs on the next two at bats before Hicks stepped in the batter’s box. Hicks worked Benton pitcher Zach Caplinger to a full count, and on the next pitch, Hicks sent a shot to deep right-centerfield.

As the ball rolled to the fence, the fleet-footed Hicks had already rounded second base. By the time Benton got the ball into the infield, Hicks was at home plate celebrating the win with his teammates and coaches. 

“I was just going for my second triple of the night,” Hicks said, not thinking he initially had a chance to make it home. “Then coach just kept waving me so I kept going. I was getting ready to do whatever I had to do, but luckily the ball was nowhere near and I could just walk in.”

It was an exciting finish to a back-and-forth game. Benton committed five errors in the first inning of game two, which allowed Cabot to build an early 4-0 lead. Benton added four runs in the second inning to knot it up at four apiece before taking the lead in the third after scoring a run.

Cabot added two in the fourth to take a 6-5 lead before Benton added two more to its run total in the fifth, which made the score 7-6 heading into the sixth and final inning. After Hicks’ walk-off homer, the game was called because of the two-hour time limit.

The first game was much cleaner as far as errors, but the Centennial Bank boys still committed five in the field compared to one for Benton. Despite the errors, Cabot led 5-0 after three innings.

Benton scored two in the fourth, but that was all it would manage against Hicks, who gave up just two hits and one earned run in six innings of work. He didn’t walk a single Benton batter and recorded seven strikeouts in the winning effort.

After Benton scored its two runs in the fourth, Cabot added another in the fifth on a two-out single to the gap in left field by Tyler Tucker. Dylan Bowers scored on the play after being hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.

Brandon Jones came in to relieve Hicks in the seventh and final inning of game one. Benton’s Schilling grounded out to start the inning, but Jones walked the next two batters he faced.

Brinson Cornwell then came to the plate and hit a fly ball to left field. What should have been an out turned into a dropped ball as there was miscommunication between the left-fielder, shortstop and third baseman as to who called it.

With the bases loaded, Jordan Allred scored on a passed ball at the plate to cut the margin to 6-3.

Jones walked the next batter to load the bases for Benton cleanup hitter Dillon Pierce, but Pierce hit into a 1-2 fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning.

Shawn Beesley then came to the plate and worked Jones to a full count, but Jones walked Beesley to give Benton its fourth run of the game. However, Jones redeemed himself the next at bat by striking out Trent Smith on a hard-breaking curveball to seal the win for the Centennial Bank squad.

“The first game we came out and played well,” said Cabot White assistant coach Justin Moore. “We executed on the base paths and made plays in the field. It was a good solid fundamental game. In the second game we got a few different guys in the lineup and I thought they played well.

“We made a few mistakes that gave up some runs, but overall we just played hard, kept swinging and got it done. When Adam got to the plate we had the right guy in the right spot.”

Hicks finished the doubleheader 4 for 7 at the plate with a single, a bunt for a single, a triple and the home run. Johnathon Latture and Austin Null totaled two hits apiece in the twinbill. Bowers, Tucker, Chris Odom and Dalton Hurst each had a hit.

The Centennial Bank boys play again at 3 p.m. today against Jonesboro at the Cabot Baseball Complex.