Tuesday, June 24, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot second with wood

Leader sports editor

Cabot’s Centennial Bank Senior American Legion team took second place in the Sheridan Wood Bat Classic that took place last Wednesday through Sunday. Cabot won its first four games before falling to Texarkana, Texas in the championship game on Sunday.

In the semifinal game on Sunday, the Panthers continued their dominance of Jacksonville, beating Gwatney Chevrolet for the third time this season 8-2, despite missing four starters for the final two rounds of the tournament.

Cabot got a lot of help from Jacksonville after the first inning, but the three runs scored by Centennial Bank in the bottom of the first proved enough for starting pitcher Gavin Tillery to earn the win.

Jacksonville scored first in the top of the first on three straight, one-out base hits. Blake Perry’s single drove in Ryan Mallison to give the Chevy Boys a 1-0 lead.

Cabot answered by getting its first three batters on base with no outs. Conner Vocque doubled and Adam Hicks walked. Ryan Logan then singled to load the bases and Vocque scored on a wild pitch by James Tucker.

Landon James then ripped a line-drive single to center field to score the other two base runners.

Jacksonville trimmed the deficit to one run in the third when Courtland McDonald opened the frame with a double down the right-field line, and scored two batters later on an RBI single to left by Greg Jones.

From that point, Jacksonville committed four errors and gave up four unearned runs the rest of the way.

Cabot’s other earned run was its next. Grayson Cole walked with one out and Hayden Vinson singled with two outs. Lee Sullivan then singled to score Cole, and got caught in a rundown between first and third. A throwing error during that run-down allowed Vinson to score as well and make it 5-2.

Caleb McMunn took the mound in relief for Jacksonville in the fifth inning, and got two quick pop ups for two outs. But an error at shortstop kept the inning alive. McMunn then walked two batters before another infield error, this time at first base, scored Coleman McAtee to put Cabot ahead 6-2.

In the sixth inning, Vocque reached on a one-out bunt single, but was caught stealing for out number two. But another error by Derek St. Clair at shortstop kept that inning alive. After a walk to Ryan Logan, McAtee hit a two-RBI double to right field to set the final margin.

Tillery gave up seven hits while striking out five and walking just two in earning the win for Cabot. Centennial Bank also racked up seven hits with Vocque leading the way with two. McDonald and Jones each got two base hits for Jacksonville.

McDonald in the 5-0 loss.

McDonald worked extremely quickly, often beginning his wind up before Cabot hitters had both hands on the bat handle.

Meanwhile Texarkana batters often called timeout while waiting for Cabot’s Adam Hicks to throw a pitch. This all caused several bouts of gamesmanship with each team taking turns causing delays for no apparent reason.

But the quick work of McDonald and the fact that Cabot didn’t score still made it a quick game.

Cabot managed just four base hits, two by nine-hole hitter Sullivan. McDonald struck out seven Cabot hitters while walking two and hitting two.

The Panthers had good chances to score in the second and fourth innings. In the second inning, McDonald fanned the first two batters, but hit the next two. With Dylan Bowers and Vinson on base, Sullivan got his first base hit, a single to right field. But Texarkana’s Nick Anderson made a perfect throw to home and got Bowers at the plate for the third out.

A bad call ended Cabot’s rally in the fourth inning, and also led to the ejection of Cabot coach Chris Gross. Cole singled with one out and Bowers reached on a throwing error by third baseman Lavert Paxton. Vinson then hit a ground ball to shortstop, where an easy out was made at second base as Bowers slid into the bag, but the umpire also called Bowers for interfering with the relay throw to first, which made it a de facto double play and ending the inning.

Bowers may have tried to interfere, but interference wasn’t possible because Texarkana didn’t try to turn the double play, instead thinking it was the third out and began trotting off the field.

Gross’ protest grew lengthy and increasingly loud until he was asked to leave the ballpark.

From that point, Cabot’s defense fell apart. Texarkana’s final three runs were the result of Cabot errors.

The Centennial Bank squad still improved its record to 14-6 with the 4-1 showing in the tournament. The team will play at North Little Rock on Thursday.