Tuesday, July 08, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot Red in zone final

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Red Junior American Legion team carried the No. 1 seed into the Zone 5 tournament at Heber Springs, and advanced to the championship round by going 2-1 from Saturday to Monday.

Fifth-seeded Heber Springs surprised the field by winning the winners’ bracket, including a shocking, five-inning, 13-3 run-rule win over Cabot Red Monday afternoon.

That loss sent the Centennial Bank squad down to the losers’ bracket final against Searcy, where it made quick work of the Silverbacks.

Cabot Red, 18-7, scored 10 runs in the bottom of the first inning en route to a 21-2 shellacking of Searcy to advance to the overall championship rematch against Heber Springs.

“We got off to a bad start against Heber Springs and it just went downhill from there,” said Cabot coach David Smith. “We bounced back and hit the ball really well against Searcy and didn’t make all the fundamental mistakes like in the first one. We caught our fly balls and made our throws. That was the real difference.”

Searcy had been the beneficiary of opponents’ errors in its previous two games, a 16-3 shellacking of Jacksonville on Sunday and a close 7-4 win over Beebe just before playing Cabot Red. That changed against Centennial Bank, as Searcy became the team that couldn’t field a ball cleanly.

It started when leadoff hitter Blake McCutchen drew a walk. Braden Jarnagin then put down a bunt single back to the pitcher. The throw was both not in time, and over the first baseman’s head, allowing McCutchen score all the way from first base and leaving Jarnagin safe at third.

Denver Mullins then bunted down the third baseline. That throw was in time, but it was also wild, scoring another run and leaving Mullins at second base.

Easton Seidl then hit a bloop single just beyond the shortstop to score Mullins, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Slunder. Seidl then took third base and scored on back-to-back wild pitches.

The bases didn’t stay clear for long. Chris Odom walked and Tanner Wilkie was hit and that was it for starting pitcher Griffin Matheny. Relief pitcher Aaron Decker then walked Bobby Duncan to load the bases, and walked Mike Havard to drive in another run.

Back at the top of the order, McCutchen hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice that got Havard thrown out but scored Wilkie. Jarnagin then walked to load the bases again to set up the inning’s biggest hit. Mullins roped a double to the wall in center field to score all three base runners and give Cabot a 9-0 lead.

He then scored on a ground-rule double when Seidl one-hopped a line drive over the wall in left field to cap the 10-run inning.

It wasn’t the last time Seidl sent one over the left field wall. Later in the game he hit a three-run home run to highlight the 19-run rout.

As the No. 1 seed, Cabot Red got a bye in the first round and played the winner between Jacksonville and Beebe. Jacksonville won that game 9-4, but Cabot Red hammered them 14-2 to set up the match with Heber Springs.

In other tournament games, Cabot White beat Sylvan Hills 11-2 in the first round before falling 4-3 to Heber Springs. In the losers’ bracket, Cabot White fell 11-1 to Beebe on Sunday.

The Zone title game against the host team was scheduled for Tuesday night after deadlines. Cabot needed two wins over Heber Springs to lock up a state tournament bid, but a loss means a matchup with Morrilton tonight for the eighth and final seed in the state tournament that begins Thursday at Burns Park in North Little Rock.