Friday, June 06, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Huge third lifts Cabot past rival

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot senior American Legion team put together a seven run two-out rally in the third inning Tuesday against the Gwatney Chevrolet seniors of Jacksonville, and the Centennial Bank squad was able to hold on late to beat the Chevy Boys 10-9 at the Cabot High School Baseball Complex.

There was plenty of offense on both sides in the first three innings of play as 18 of the game’s 19 total runs scored came in that time. Jacksonville led 4-3 after the first inning, and pushed that lead to 7-3 by the end of the second.

Jacksonville upped its lead to 8-3 in the top of the third with a stand-up RBI double by leadoff hitter Courtland McDonald that sailed to the fence in center field. Deaundray Harris scored from third base on the play after walking the previous at-bat and advancing all the way to third on an errant pickoff move at first base.

Cabot, though, was able to take advantage of Jacksonville’s failures to find the strike zone in the bottom part of the inning. Gwatney starting pitcher Derek St. Clair issued two-straight walks to start the inning.

He struck out the next batter he faced, but Dylan Bowers walked the next at-bat to load the bases. Lee Sullivan lined out following Bowers’ walk for the second out of the inning, but leadoff hitter Conner Vocque walked after Sullivan’s lineout, which allowed Landon James to score Cabot’s fourth run of the game.

Things went downhill from that point on for Jacksonville. After Vocque’s RBI walk, Ryan Logan hit a bases-clearing triple to right field that got past the Gwatney right fielder and allowed him to go into third base standing up.

Logan’s three-RBI hit cut Jacksonville’s lead to 8-7, and Kason Kimbrell tied it up at 8-8 the next at-bat with a single up the middle of the diamond. Cleanup hitter Tristan Bulice was plunked by St. Clair following Kimbrell’s hit, putting runners at first and second for the Centennial Bank squad.

That brought Landon James back around the order after he led off the inning with a walk, and he gave Cabot its 10-8 lead after hitting a stand-up double to right-center field, which drove in Kimbrell and Bulice.

“Landon James made some good plays at the plate,” said Cabot coach Chris Gross of his team’s third-inning rally. “He got that double and Ryan Logan hit a triple that unloaded the bases, and it worked out.

“The thing with these boys right now is they’re relaxed. Sometimes they can be too relaxed, but I don’t think they ever really gave up. They knew they could hit the ball and they knew they could manufacture some runs, but I definitely think we can improve.

“They (Jacksonville) definitely outhit us. They were hitting the ball really hard.”

Cabot actually outhit Jacksonville 10-8, but the Gwatney seniors only had four strikeouts total for the game and reached base on two of Cabot’s four errors and had several hard-hit balls that were right at Cabot fielders.

Cabot’s lineup struck out seven times total in the game, but reached base on eight walks issued by Jacksonville. The score remained 10-8 till the top of the fifth, when the Chevy Boys cut their deficit to one while setting the final score in the process.

Harris singled down the third baseline to start things off in the fifth for the visitors. Ryan Mallison walked two batters later, and Harris and Mallison advanced to third and second base on a double steal.

With two outs, three-hole hitter Greg Jones walked the following at-bat to load the bases, and cleanup hitter Blake Perry walked as well to score Harris and give Perry his fourth RBI of the night.

Cabot got out of the jam by striking out the next batter faced, but Jacksonville gave the Centennial Bank team another scare in the top of the seventh.

The Chevy Boys had runners at the corners with two outs in the inning, but Logan, who came in to relieve Sullivan on the mound in the seventh, got the next out with his first strikeout of the game, and therefore, earned the save on the hill as a result.

Kimbrell officially got the win on the mound for Cabot. He came in to relieve Gavin Tillery in the third inning, which helped stymie Jacksonville’s production at the plate. Kimbrell was Cabot’s third pitcher to throw at that point, and Logan was Cabot’s fifth pitcher of the game.

Logan, Kimbrell and Grayson Cole led Cabot with two hits each. Logan’s three RBIs led the team in that category.

Harris, Perry and Mallison led Jacksonville with two hits apiece. Perry’s four RBIs was a game-high.