Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Colts unbeaten, win at Sheridan

Leader sports editor

The North Little Rock senior American Legion team won the People’s Bank Wood Bat Classic and kept its undefeated record intact over the weekend in Sheridan. The Colts defeated Jacksonville 5-2 in the semifinals and Cabot 4-0 in the championship game on Sunday to complete the sweep of the annual prestigious event.

“This is a really good tournament, and a fun tournament and something the kids look forward to and enjoy taking part in,” said North Little Rock coach Bob Hopkins. “This bunch has been so solid all year, and it’s always fun when you take home the trophy.”

The Colts didn’t hit the ball as well as they have most of the year, but that’s to be expected in a wood-bat tournament. Despite the sub-par hitting, Hopkins was pleased with the overall performance.

“We got really great pitching from everyone this weekend, and we played really good defense,” Hopkins said. “That’s what won this tournament for us. I was a little under whelmed with the hitting, even for a wood-bat tournament, but defensively we were very solid and I was very proud of all our pitchers.”

In the final three games over the weekend, Nick Cleveland went the distance on Saturday to beat Pine Bluff Relyance.

J.D. Miller took the mound in Sunday’s semifinal win over Jacksonville, and Connor Eller went the distance for a five-hit shutout in the championship victory over Cabot.

Cabot’s best chance to score came in the second inning when Coleman McAtee singled and Adam Hicks doubled to put runners in scoring position with one out. But Eller fanned the next batter then got a fly ball to centerfield to get out of the jam.

Cabot got no more than one base runner in any of the remaining five innings, though two were leadoff doubles.

Casey Vaughan started the fourth inning with a shot over the head of Miller in left field, but he tried to stretch into a triple and was thrown out at third base.

McAtee led off the seventh inning with a double to left-centerfield, but the next three batters went down in order, with Eller striking out Grayson Cole to seal his win.

Cabot was deep into its pitching staff when the game began, but Kyle Kaufman kept the Colts off balance for most of his three innings on the mound.

He gave up three consecutive singles to the seven-eight-nine hitters with two outs in the second inning to give up one run.

He stayed solid until a rocky start in the fifth inning forced substitute coach Chris Gross to end his day on the mound. Will Hopkins started the rally with a leadoff single before Kaufman walked Justin Weigle and Dylan Huckaby to load the bases.

Chris Odom took the mound for Cabot and gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Dylan Boone and L.J. Wallace for runs that were charged to Kaufman.

Landon Hearnes then popped one foul that was caught by catcher Hayden Vinson, but no one covered home, allowing Huckaby to sneak in from third for the final run of the game.

The Colts end the tournament with its record still perfect at 14-0. They travel to Hot Springs Lakeside on Thursday.