Friday, July 18, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot Red’s season ends in semifinals

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Red Junior American Legion team’s season came to an end Tuesday in the semifinals of the Junior American Legion state tournament at North Little Rock’s Burns Park, where it lost a close 2-1 decision to the Sheridan Yellowjackets.

Sheridan (22-5) scored the game’s first run in the top of the first inning, and held Cabot scoreless through the first four innings.

The Centennial Bank team knotted up the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth, but the Yellowjackets scored the game’s final run their next at-bat in the top of the sixth and kept the Cabot bats at bay for the remainder of the game to move on to the finals.

Other than getting timely hits when needed, Cabot played an overall solid game, but so did Sheridan. Both teams totaled seven hits in the game, and Centennial Bank didn’t commit a single error in the field and didn’t have a single strikeout at the plate in the seven innings played.

Sheridan committed two errors at shortstop in the first inning alone, but didn’t have an error the rest of the way, which is what ultimately kept Cabot from putting together any sort of rally. For the game, Cabot left a total of 10 runners stranded on base – four more than Sheridan’s six.

“They’re a good, solid team, but you expect that at this level,” said Cabot Red assistant coach David Smith, who took over head-coaching duties Tuesday in head coach Justin Moore’s absence. “One thing you know when you play a Sheridan team is they’re going to play the game the right way. They’re going to play fundamentally sound, and that’s what they were.

“Defensively, I thought we did an excellent job. We made the plays when we had to make the plays. Offensively, I couldn’t have asked for anything else. They hit the ball hard – right at them a lot of times. It was just that timely hit that eluded us.

“One thing I was telling the guys, we were in the fifth inning, I said, ‘guys, we’ve had a runner at third every inning. We’re just waiting to bust one open.’ In that inning we finally got that clutch hit, that timely hit, we just didn’t have enough of them.”

Sheridan leadoff hitter David Vilches hit a double to start the game, and two-hole hitter Lathan Wylie drove him in the next at-bat with a single to give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead. The score remained 1-0 till the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, Cabot Red leadoff hitter Blake McCutchen doubled to right field to start the inning, and he advanced to third base on a 6-3 groundout by starting pitcher Chris Odom.

That brought three-hole hitter Jacob Slunder to the plate, and he drove in McCutchen with a one-out single to right field, tying the game at 1-1. However, Sheridan responded with a run in the top of the sixth to take the lead for good.

Yellowjacket cleanup hitter Evan Thompson hit a stand-up double to the wall in center field to lead off the inning, and he advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by teammate Dustin Reid.

That brought Brady Bibb to the plate, and he sent the go-ahead run across the plate with a sac fly to left field. Odom then struck out designated hitter Isiah Quintanilla to end the top part of the sixth inning.

In the last inning, Cabot was able to get runners at first and second base with two outs after Slunder hit a double to left field and cleanup hitter Easton Seidl was intentionally walked, but Reid, who came in to relieve starting pitcher Zach Glidden the next at-bat, got Cabot’s Gavin Tillery to fly out to shallow center field to end the game in the Jackets’ favor.

Even though Cabot lost the game, it was still an excellent year for the Centennial Bank Red team. In addition to advancing all the way to the semifinals of the Junior American Legion state tournament, the Centennial Bank Red team qualified for the state tournament by winning the Zone 3 tournament championship last week in Heber Springs.

The Cabot Red team finished the summer with an overall record of 24-9.

“It was a good year with this group of guys,” Smith said. “They went out there and they fought. They faced some adversity and I thought they did well. Today, they just came up a bit short.”

Odom threw all seven innings for Cabot. He recorded a game-high three strikeouts and allowed just one walk in his time on the hill.

Offensively, Slunder led all batters, going 3 for 3 with an RBI, while teammates McCutchen, Tanner Wilkie, Bobby Duncan and Mike Havard totaled one hit apiece. For Sheridan, Vilches, Wylie and Reid each had two hits, while Thompson had one hit.