Tuesday, July 16, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Centennial Bank beats 7-Up squad

Leader sportswriter

Cabot and Paragould put on a scoring barrage in the first four innings of Saturday’s American Legion matchup at Burns Park as the two teams scored a combined 22 runs in that time, but neither team could gain the upper hand in extra innings till Cabot pulled through with a run in the top of the 11th to win 14-13 in 11 innings.

The senior Centennial Bank team pounced on Paragould starting pitcher Zack Crisler early with five runs in the first inning to take a 5-0 lead. Cabot starting pitcher Kyle Kaufman held Paragould scoreless for the first two innings, but the 7-Up team responded in a huge way in the bottom of the third.

Cabot (16-13) looked to be in control after scoring again in the top of the third to lead 6-0, but Paragould (24-11) scored nine runs its next at bat off of Kaufman to take a 9-6 lead. However, the Centennial Bank squad didn’t stay down long.

Cabot answered with six runs in the top of the fourth to regain the lead, but Paragould added four more to its side of the board to cut the Panthers’ lead to 12-10 by the end of the inning. After the 22 runs scored in the first four innings, the two teams combined to score just five runs the rest of the game.

Paragould scored the first of the last five runs in the fifth inning to cut Cabot’s lead to one. Logan Reddick led off the inning with an infield single to shortstop.

He beat out Cabot shortstop Conner Vocque’s throw to first, but Vocque’s throw was high and off the mark and as the ball rolled along the right field fence, Reddick ran all the way to third.

The next at bat, leadoff hitter Eric Wilcoxson drove him in with a sacrifice fly to left field, cutting the deficit to 12-11. Cabot responded with a run in the top of the sixth, but Paragould cut the margin back to one its next at bat.

Centennial Bank leadoff hitter, Vocque, was hit by a pitch at the start of the sixth inning.

Bryson Morris walked the next at bat to move Vocque to second and Vocque stole third base before scoring on a ground ball to shortstop by three-hole hitter Casey Vaughan that resulted in an E6.

Paragould cut Cabot’s lead to 13-12 by the end of the sixth with a run scored, and held the Centennial Bank team scoreless its next at bat in the top of the seventh.

The 7-Up team managed to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh and Vaughan, Cabot’s third pitcher of the game, hit Paragould five-hole hitter Gunner Pitts with a pitch with two outs, scoring Wilcoxson to send the game to extra innings.

Morris came in to relieve Vaughan in the 10th inning and pitched the rest of the way. He gave up just one hit and no runs.

Ryan Logan scored the game-winning run in the top of the 11th. Logan walked to lead off the inning, and advanced to second based on a passed ball at the plate.

Two batters later with two outs, Zach Patterson drove Logan in with a clutch stand-up double to left-centerfield to set the final score. Paragould had a chance in the bottom of the 11th to at least tie the game as it had a runner on third base with two outs, but Morris struck out pinch-hitter Logan Murray to seal the win for Cabot.

Morris, Cabot’s fourth pitcher of the game, got the win on the mound and even though the win took more time and energy than expected, Cabot coach Cody Whitworth was glad to at least have the opportunity to throw several pitchers in live action before Zone Tournament play begins on Friday.

“We did use a lot of pitchers, but this game doesn’t mean anything for Zone,” Whitworth said. “I wanted to make sure my pitchers got work anyway. So every pitcher that threw today was basically what I wanted as far as the number of pitches they threw because I’ve got to get all my pitchers in before Wednesday so we can be ready for the Zone Tournament.

“Morris came in and threw 23 pitches there at the end and that’s a good bullpen for him. Paragould swung it well. They swung it extremely well, but we hit the ball well too. I think this is going to get us ready for the Zone Tournament. It was good to come out with a win. To play for a while and come out with a ‘W’ is always good.”

Cabot was outhit 15-11 in the winning effort. Grayson Cole led the way for Cabot offensively with three hits. Patterson and Kason Kimbrell had two each, and Vocque, Morris, Logan and Coleman McAtee had one hit apiece.

Since that win, the senior Centennial squad has picked up two more wins and a loss.

On Saturday, Cabot went to Jonesboro and split a doubleheader, then beat Russellville 13-6 on Monday, with McAtee, who is rarely used on the mound, getting the win with three innings of no-hit ball in relief.

The senior Centennial Bank squad will play Russellville again in the first round of the Zone 3 tournament Friday at Burns Park.