Monday, June 24, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Post 71 seniors get past Gwatney

Leader sportswriter

The combination of Cabot’s timely hits and Bryson Morris’ stellar pitching helped the Panthers senior American Legion team beat Jacksonville 6-2 in seven innings on Wednesday at the Cabot City Park.

Morris pitched six and two-thirds innings for the win and struck out seven Jacksonville batters, walked just one, and the two base runners that scored reached base on infield errors late in the game.

“These guys have been playing two games every night,” said Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham of his team. “We’re struggling right now. We’ve played a whole bunch of ball games in a few days. So we just have to get a chance where we can give them a little break.”

The game was scoreless after an inning of play, but Cabot got on the board in the second. Adam Hicks, the Panthers’ five-hole hitter, walked to start the inning and later scored on a ground ball to shortstop to give the home team an early 1-0 lead. 

That was the score until the fourth inning when Cabot added another run to its total. Kyle Kaufman was hit by a pitch at the start of the inning, and he scored five batters later on a hard-hit single to left field by three-hole hitter Casey Vaughan.

Cabot all but put the game away in the fifth inning with four runs that made it a 6-0 game. Cleanup hitter Ryan Logan doubled to start the inning. Two batters later, Grayson Cole hit a one-out, two-run home run over the fence in left field to put the Panthers up by four runs.
Kaufman singled the next at bat and reached second base on a passed ball at home plate. Hayden Vinson later reached on an E4, which allowed Kaufman to score, and the Panthers scored their final run on a bases-loaded walk by Vaughan.

Cabot outhit Jacksonville 8-4, and Hickingbotham attributes most of that to Morris’ performance on the mound.

“Bryson is a good pitcher,” Hickingbotham said of Morris. “When we get to see that kind of pitching it’s only going to make us better and better – and, basically, that’s what we’re trying to do. But we’ve got a bunch that’s just plum worn out. We still ask them to do it, to just go and go and go, and they’re having a hard time.”  

Jacksonville was able to find a little bit of momentum in the top of the seventh and final inning thanks to a couple of infield errors with two outs. Wesley Williams and D.J. Scott both reached base on a pair of back-to-back E4s, and LaDerrious Perry walked the next at bat to load the bases for leadoff hitter Derek St. Clair. 

St. Clair singled to the gap in left field to drive in Williams. Scott held at third and Morris hit catcher Troy Allen for the third time in the game the following at bat, which allowed Scott to cross home plate and set the final score.

Vaughan came in to relieve Morris after Allen’s at bat, and forced three-hole hitter Blake Perry to fly-out to end the game. Only two batters for either team had multiple hits. Cole led Cabot with a 2 for 3 showing at the plate, and St. Clair finished the game 2 for 4.

After starting the season 0-6, the Panthers have won seven of their last eight games to bring their current record to 7-7.