Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers walk past Devils

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers got little offense going, but showed patience at the plate to get on base and pushed across three runs with the help of Jacksonville errors to beat the nearby rival 3-1 Friday at Brian Wade Conrade Field. Jacksonville junior Caleb McMunn took the loss on the mound, giving up just one base hit. He threw five innings, striking out three, walking four and hitting two batters. That coupled with Jacksonville’s four errors, and a fine performance on the mound by Evan Hooper, led to the Panther victory.

Though a nonconference game, the win was a needed one for Cabot, who entered the game fresh off dropping both ends of a doubleheader at Jonesboro two days before.

“You never want to complain about a win,” said Cabot coach Ronnie Goodwin. “Jacksonville is a quality ball team. I just think what you saw in this game was two teams a little tired. I know they played yesterday, too, and had a doubleheader earlier in the week. But really, tonight, what you saw was two pretty good teams playing pretty mediocre baseball.”

Hooper held the Red Devils (13-7, 8-0) to just two hits while striking out five in six innings. Hooper, though, issued just three free bases and hit no one.

Cabot (9-7, 5-3) scored first with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. Logan Kirkendoll drew a leadoff walk before a strikeout and pop-up. McMunn then hit Blake McCutchen with a 3-1 pitch before Tristan Bulice got the Panthers’ only hit of the game, an infield single to third that left the bases loaded. Landon James then hit a ground ball to shortstop that was mishandled and Kirkendoll scored. McCutchen tried to score on the play but was thrown out at home to end the inning.

Jacksonville tied it in the top of the fourth, also without a base hit. McMunn drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on a balk by Hooper. Greg Jones hit a grounder to third that resulted in a bad throw, which allowed McMunn to score from second.

Hooper got a strikeout before an error at first base left runners at first and third, but Brandon Hickingbotham hit into a double play to end the inning.

The game stayed tied until the bottom of the fifth when Kirkendoll again drew a leadoff walk. Lee Sullivan then reached on a throwing error by Jones. The Jacksonville catcher picked up Sullivan’s one-hopper in front of the plate and fired a throw into right field.

Kirkendoll scored all the way from first base on the play while Sullivan stopped at second. A sacrifice grounder by Dylan Bowers moved Sullivan to third, and another sacrifice by McCutchen scored Sullivan and set the final margin.

Jacksonville got its first hit of the game in the top of the fifth when D.J. Scott singled to shallow right-center field, but Hooper got the next three batters in order.

Jacksonville put two runners on with two outs in the sixth. Hickingbotham scorched a hard ground ball down the first base line, but Bulice gobbled it up and touched first base to end the rally.

Logan Gilbertson took the mound for Cabot in the seventh, and gave up a leadoff single, this one again by Scott. But Glibertson dominated from there, striking out the side by getting Jacksonville’s nine, one and two hitters swinging.

On Monday, Cabot hammered Little Rock Parkview 16-0 in three innings in a nonconference game at home. Dylan Billingsley threw all three innings, giving up just one base hit while striking out six and walking zero.

The Panthers got just seven base hits against the error-prone Patriots. Dylan Bowers, Ethan Smith and Sullivan each got two base hits while Jake Slunder went 1 for 1 for the Panthers.