Friday, March 14, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot back to winning the Classic

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers improved their record to 3-0 on the season by beating a tough Sylvan Hills team 2-1 Thursday in the finals of the First Arkansas Bank Red Devil Classic tournament at Dupree Park in Jacksonville.

Cabot senior Kason Kimbrell was the winner of the pitchers’ duel. He threw five innings and gave up just two hits, two walks and no earned runs during that stretch while also recording four strikeouts.

“It was a pretty well-played game on both sides overall,” said Cabot coach RonnieGoodwin. “I was pleased not with just winning, but winning one-run games. I continue to tell our guys that’s what makes you a better team. You learn more in one-run games than anything else.

“We had a couple plays where we kind of shot ourselves in the foot that maybe took some opportunities away, but our kids never hung their heads. They just tried to stay positive and look ahead, and they didn’t look back at those negatives. So the mental toughness we’re preaching, we’re starting to see it a little more.”

The Panthers scored their first run in the top of the first inning. Lee Sullivan walked to start the inning and later on in the inning, Tristan Bulice hit a two-out, RBI-double over the left fielder’s head that allowed Sullivan to score, but the Bears (2-2) added their only run in the bottom part of the inning thanks to an error at second base.

Cabot scored the game-winning run in the top of the fourth. Sylvan Hills struggled to find the strike zone in that inning and walked in the Panthers’ second run as a result.

Gavin Tillery scored the go-ahead run after leadoff hitter Conner Vocque walked with the bases loaded and Cabot’s defense and pitching held the Bears scoreless for the rest of the game, giving the Panthers the tournament championship.

“Kason Kimbrell pitched very well for us,” Goodwin said. “He gave up one unearned run and then Zach Patterson came in and pitched the final two innings and was as impressive as I’ve seen him this year. His confidence and our team’s confidence as a whole is starting to go up.”

Bulice led the Panthers offensively, going 3 for 4 at the plate with an RBI. Tillery finished 1 for 2 at the plate with a double and a run scored.

Patterson earned the save after his two innings of work. He allowed one hit and one walk in his time on the hill, and recorded two strikeouts.

The Panthers will play their next game Tuesday at home in a 7A/6A East Conference doubleheader against North Little Rock. The first pitch of game one will be at approximately 5 p.m. at the Cabot baseball complex.