Monday, July 01, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot falls in final inning

Leader sportswriter

After trailing the majority of the game, Cabot’s senior American Legion team battled back to take a one run lead in the top of the seventh inning against Hot Springs Lakeside, but the Rams responded their next at bat with a walk off, two-RBI single by cleanup hitter Spencer Hecke to beat the Panthers 5-4 on Thursday at the Jacksonville American Legion Baseball Classic.

“I thought we had it,” said Cabot coach Chris Gross after the game. “I don’t know how he (Hecke) hit that last pitch. I mean, he dug it out of the dirt. But it was a good game. We just had some bad breaks.” 

The game was tied at 3-3 entering the seventh and final inning. Cabot’s three-hole hitter Casey Vaughan started the inning with a stand-up double down the left-field line. First baseman Kason Kimbrell advanced Vaughan to third base two batters later with his second-straight single to centerfield.

Lakeside pitcher Marcus Fisher struck out Coleman McAtee the next at bat for the second out of the inning, and with Kyle Kaufman, the Panthers’ seven-hole hitter, at the plate, Kimbrell stole second base.

As the Rams catcher jumped up to make the throw to second, Vaughan, without any hesitation, took off for home. However, the throw was cut off by the Lakeside second baseman, and the throw home was in time to get Vaughan, but it was off the mark and Vaughan slid in safely to give Cabot (10-11) its first lead of the game at 4-3.

The double steal proved to be the right move as Kaufman struck out to end the inning. Lakeside’s offense had stalled ever since Grayson Cole took over pitching duties in the fifth inning. Cole didn’t give up a single walk or hit up to that point.

Rams nine-hole hitter Aidan Watson led off the inning and came through for his team with a single to centerfield. Christian Lopez then came to the plate to pinch-hit for leadoff hitter Bo Ritter and laid down an excellent sacrifice bunt to advance Watson to second base.

Fisher flew out to right field the next at bat for the second out of the inning. Cole then intentionally walked three-hole hitter Austin Softley for a force out opportunity at any bag with runners at first and second base.

Hecke, who was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts in his first three plate appearances, then came to the plate. Cole’s first two pitches blew by Hecke, and the third pitch was outside for a ball, but on the next pitch, Hecke got his first hit of the game when Lakeside needed it the most.

Hecke sent Cole’s low and outside pitch the opposite way to right-centerfield, which allowed Watson and Fisher to score to end the game. The Panthers’ offense struggled early as they fell behind 3-1 after two innings of play, but they battled back to outhit the Rams 9-8 and put themselves in a position to win the game.

Fisher got the win on the mound after taking over pitching duties in the fifth inning. He gave up two runs, two walks, five hits, and recorded one strikeout.

Vaughan led all batters with a 3 for 4 showing at the plate. Two of Vaughan’s hits were stand-up doubles. Conner Vocque and Kimbrell had two hits apiece, while Bryson Morris and Hayden Vinson each had one hit.

Watson, Taylor Street and Chase Willingham led Lakeside (7-6) with two hits apiece.