Wednesday, April 01, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Youthful Panthers showing progress

Leader sports editor

The Cabot baseball team went 1-2 in the final two days of the Central Arkansas Invitational tournament, losing 2-1 in extra innings to tournament host and champion Little Rock Catholic Friday morning, beating Alma 8-0 with a no-hitter from Chase Kyzer on Friday afternoon and falling 6-5 to Benton on Saturday, despite out-hitting the powerful fellow Panthers.

“I think we’re starting to play better baseball and making some good progress,” said Cabot coach Ronnie Goodwin. “Gavin Tillery has had two really good outings his last two games. Chase Kyzer is pitching really well. Gavin has 17 strikeouts in his last 15 innings. Kyzer I think has double-digit strikeouts in his last two starts. We’ve lost four ball games and three of them have been by one run. We’ve just been one or two plays in each of those games from winning them.”

Lanky left-hander Gavin Tillery retired the first 12 Rockets in order before a pair of singles and a sacrifice grounder by Catholic tied the game in the fifth inning.

Cabot took the lead in the top of the fifth on a one-out double by Evan Hooper and an RBI single by Tristan Bulice.

Tillery pitched all the way through the eighth inning before yielding to Eric Larsen in the bottom of the ninth. He gave up two singles to start the inning then walked the bases loaded with one out. Chris Musteen then hit a sacrifice grounder to shortstop to end the game.

Tillery gave up six hits and one earned run, striking out seven and walking one in eight full innings on the mound.

Catholic’s Evan Hiatt and Austin Chumley combined to give up seven hits to the Panthers; Denver Mullins and Easton Seidl picking up two hits apiece for Cabot.

On Friday evening, Kyzer averaged just 13 pitches per inning, struck out six and walked zero in five innings. The Panthers got two runs in the first and six more in the third, forcing an early stoppage to the game in the middle of the fifth.

Seven different Panthers got one base hit in the win over the Airedales. Jonathan Latture doubled in the sixth inning and Mullins got a triple for Cabot’s only extra base hits.

On Saturday, Cabot lost for the second time to the Benton Panthers, but competed much better than in the earlier 10-0 loss at Cabot.

The Cabot Panthers out-hit Benton 11-8 on Saturday, and took a quick 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by Bulice in the top of the first inning.

But Benton jumped on Hooper in the bottom of the same frame, getting three base hits and drawing three walks off the sophomore to jump ahead 4-2.

The score remained that way until Hooper doubled to center field and Larsen singled to drive him home in the top of the third, but again Benton answered in the bottom half.

Hooper walked Colby Johnson to start the inning, and then gave up a one-out single to Jack Jumper that made it 5-3 Benton.

Latture replaced Hooper on the mound in the fourth inning, and Benton added to its lead thanks to a single, a double and a Cabot error.

Cabot pulled to within one with two runs in the top of the fifth. Hooper hit a leadoff single then scored on a one-out base hit by Mullins. Brandon Jarnigan replaced Mullins on the base paths and scored on Benton’s second error of the inning to set the final margin.

Cabot threatened in the seventh with back-to-back one-out singles by Logan Kirkendoll and Blake McCutchen, but Kirkendoll was caught on the base paths and Latture struck out to end the game.

“We played much better than the first time we played Benton,” Goodwin said. “In fact, I think we played a pretty good game. We had some situations where we had opportunities to score, and just hit line drives right at people.

“We had runners moving on one of them and it turned into a double play, but that’s just baseball. You can’t ask for much more from your guys than to hit line drives. It just didn’t work out for us,” Goodwin said.

Cabot (4-4, 2-0) is off until Friday when it hosts Marion in another 7A/6A-East doubleheader.