Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot juniors earn three seed

Leader sports editor

The Centennial Bank junior American Legion team will take a No. 3 seed into the five-state regional this weekend in Bryant, after losing 2-1 in the state semifinals to the Bryant Black Sox late Monday evening in Cabot.

Cabot pitcher Gavin Tillery gave up three hits in the first inning, and just two more the rest of the way, but Cabot’s defense committed a few more mistakes than Bryant, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

Neither team scored an earned run, and neither pitcher gave up a walk. Tillery went the distance in his five-hitter, striking out eight Black Sox along the way.

The Panthers missed two great opportunities to take the lead in the fourth and fifth innings, but Bryant made a great defensive play in the fourth while a Cabot base running blunder hurt the fifth-inning rally.

In the fourth inning, Adam Hicks and Brandon Jones reached on back-to-back, one-out errors. Tillery then singled to shallow centerfield to score Hicks for Cabot’s first run of the game. Jonathan Latture then hit a hard groundball up the middle, but Bryant shortstop Connor Tatum scooped it up on the run, stepped on second and threw to first for the inning-ending, unassisted double play.

In the fifth, Dalten Hurst led off and reached second base on an E5. The next batter hit a grounder to short. Hurst tried to advance to third during the throw to first, but was thrown out easily for a 6-3-5 double play.

The Panthers briefly thought they had a potential game-winning hit in the sixth. Still trailing 2-1 with a runner on second base, cleanup hitter Brandon Jones ripped a line drive over the wall in left field, but just barely left of the foul pole. Two pitches later he grounded out to third base to end the inning.

Monday’s loss was the second one-run, low-scoring loss for Centennial Bank in the tournament. Cabot lost 1-0 to Jacksonville on Sunday morning on a walk-off, RBI triple in the bottom of the seventh.

Bryant and Jacksonville met Tuesday night after Leader deadlines for the state championship.

Cabot also won two games in the tournament, opening with a 4-3 victory over Paragould-RC, then winning a slugfest 12-9 against Newport.

Seven Cabot players combined for 10 base hits in the win against Newport. Jonathan Latture finished with four RBIs, including a bases-clearing triple in a four-run third inning.

Newport held a 6-0 lead after two innings, but Cabot came back to tie it with four in the third and two in the fourth.

After a scoreless fifth, Cabot rallied for six runs in the bottom of the sixth with three base hits and three hit batters to go with one Newport error.

Hicks went 2 for 2, Dylan Bowers 2 for 3 and Chris Odom 2 for 4 in the victory.

Lee Sullivan took the mound in the second inning for Cabot, finishing the game and earning the win. He gave up three hits and no earned runs while striking out five and walking three.

Cabot grabbed an early lead in the tournament opener against RC, scoring three runs in the top of the first, only to watch Paragould chip away a run at a time until the game was tied in the bottom of the last inning.

This time it was Cabot’s turn to get a game-winning, RBI triple. Bowers reached on an E1 with one out. Two batters later with two outs, Hicks tripled into the power alley in left-centerfield.

He then took the mound in the ninth after an eight-inning gem by Tillery. Hicks walked two to give Paragould life, but struck out two and forced a week fly ball to secure the victory.

Tiller gave up nine hits and one earned run his eight innings on Friday. He fanned five and again gave up no walks. He also went 3 for 4 at the plate while Hicks was 2 for 5 with two RBIs.

The Centennial Bank team will begin play in the regional tournament on Friday in Bryant. Four Arkansas teams will face state champions from four surrounding states at the regional event.