Tuesday, May 13, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot shuts out Lakeside

Leader sports editor

Senior outfielder Coleman McAtee showed out on Senior Night at Conrade Field in Cabot on Monday. The outfielder hit two towering solo home runs over the wall in left field to lead the Panthers to a 7-0 victory over Hot Springs Lakeside in the final game of the regular season before heading to the class 7A state tournament that’s scheduled to begin on Thursday.

McAtee’s first blast came on the first pitch of the bottom of the second inning, and it sailed 30 to 50 feet beyond the 320-feet sign on the fence.

The second came with two outs in the fifth inning to the same area of the field, but not quite as deep. It was also on the first pitch of the at-bat.

“Coleman’s a guy who early on, we were just trying to find a spot in the lineup for,” said Cabot coach Ronnie Goodwin. “We tried him in left field, some at third base, some at DH. We knew he had a bat so we had to get him somewhere in the lineup. He’s settled in pretty well at left field and he’s swinging it really well right now.”

Goodwin utilized four different pitchers to get all his key hurlers some work before state. Adam Hicks, Zach Patterson and Kason Kimbrell threw two innings apiece, and Riley Knudsen closed it down in the seventh inning.

The Rams got just two base hits in the game. The first came on the first pitch thrown by Patterson in the top of the third inning. He struck out the next three, and then fanned two of three in the fourth inning to complete his work.

Hicks opened the game and walked one each in the first two innings, but was never in serious trouble. After Patterson, Kimbrell took the mound and got into a little trouble after a routine fly ball by Tanner Rice was dropped in right field.

He struck out the next two batters before giving up a single to leadoff hitter Hayden Lindsey. Rice tried to score on the play, but was thrown out at home by shortstop Conner Vocque on the relay throw to end the inning. Kimbrell sat down the Rams in order in the sixth before yielding to Knudsen, who struck out the first batter he faced before getting two infield pop ups to end the game.

McAtee’s first bomb was the first run of the game. Cabot added three unearned in the third inning when they faced a new pitcher. Rice took the mound and the tall southpaw struggled to find the strike zone before committing a two-run blunder that put his team in a 3-0 hole.

Vocque, hitting in the nine hole, walked on four straight pitches after falling behind 0-1. Grayson Cole then bunted to third base where the ball was fielded cleanly, but indecision on where to go with the throw left both runners safe. Hicks then bunted back to Rice, who tried to get the lead runner at third, but overthrew his target and the ball rolled deep into left-field foul territory. That allowed Vocque and Cole to score easily and leaving Hicks standing on second.

That was it for Rice. Former Cabot American Legion coach and head Ram Jay Darr pulled him after facing three batters and recording one walk, one E5 and an E1.

Knudsen singled on the next at-bat to put runners at the corners with no outs. Tristan Bulice then hit a fly ball to left field that was deep enough to score Hicks and make it 4-0.

Vocque was hit by a pitch with one out in the fourth inning and stole second base. He then scored on an RBI single by Cole to make it 5-0.

McAtee’s dinger made it 6-0 in the fifth, and Cabot added the final run in the sixth when Cole’s RBI single scored catcher Denver Mullins, who had singled to right field with one out.

The Panthers, 15-12, face Rogers-Heritage at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Burns Park in North Little Rock. Goodwin believes his squad is playing its best ball of the season, and has a decision to make about Thursday’s starter.

“Kason might be our hottest hand right now so we’re in the process of figuring out who’s going to start that first game,” Goodwin said. “He’s throwing his best ball of the season for sure. Of course we’ve got Zach who’s been our ace all year. So right now I feel like we have two guys that can go up there and get anybody out. It’s certainly better to have that kind of decision than trying to figure out who worries you the least.”