|Cabot’s Logan Gilbertson drove in runs in Centennial Bank’s junior and senior wins over Benton on Monday in Cabot.|
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
Local teams continue to be very successful in the Sheridan Wood Bat Classic. The Centennial Bank senior American Legion team advanced to the championship game on Sunday, where play was halted and postponed in the fifth inning due to heavy rain. Cabot and tournament host Sheridan will resume play for the championship on July 24.
Cabot’s appearance in the final marks the fifth-straight year that either Cabot or Jacksonville, and sometimes both, have advanced to the final of the state’s largest annual mid-season tournament.
When play resumes, Sheridan will hold a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth. Cabot will be at bat with a runner on first base and no outs.
To get to the championship round, Cabot beat Malvern 9-1 earlier in the day on Sunday in the semifinals. Malvern took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but pitcher Brett Brockinton shut things down from there.
Brockinton gave up a hit to Malvern’s leadoff hitter Marcus Collie, and two Cabot errors brought the runner around. Malvern did not get another runner on base the rest of the five- inning game. Brockinton threw all five innings for Cabot, giving up just one hit and zero earned runs while striking out seven, walking none and retiring the last 13 batters in a row.
He also scored Cabot’s first run in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs and no one on, Brockinton hit the first of back-to-back doubles that tied the game. Gavin Tillery followed Brockinton’s shot with an RBI triple to the wall in center field, but was thrown out at home trying to stretch it into an infield-the-park home run.
In the second inning, Blake McCutchen hit a leadoff single and Hayden Vinson slapped a two-out double to right field to give Cabot its first lead at 2-1.
The Centennial Bank squad took control of the game with a three-run third inning. Dylan Bowers walked and Lee Sullivan bunted him to second base on a sacrifice. Sullivan stole second base and Brockinton hit a groundout to shortstop that did not advance the runner.
With two outs, Tillery singled to drive in Sullivan and McCutchen walked to put runners on first and second. Logan Gilbertson then doubled to left-center field to score both base runners and give Cabot a 5-1 lead.
Centennial Bank added two more runs in the fourth inning. Nine-hole hitter Caleb Harpole hit a leadoff single to left field. Bowers and Sullivan hit back-to-back groundouts before Brockinton walked with two outs. Tillery then singled to score Bowers and McCutchen walked to load the bases. Gilbertson then took a pitch off the shoulder to score Brockinton for a 7-1 lead.
Cabot added two more in the bottom of the fifth to invoke the eight-runs-after-five-innings sportsmanship rule the tournament observed. The final rally started with a leadoff base hit to right field by Vinson. Bowers walked with one out and Sullivan reached on a bunt single that included an error that scored Vinson and moved the runners into scoring position. The game ended on a passed ball.
The Cabot senior team endured another mid-game rainout Monday against Benton at Conrade Memorial Field.
The Centennial Bank squad was dominating and led 10-2 when play was halted before the first pitch of the fourth inning. A mishmash team of junior and senior players piled up 12 base hits in just three innings against the Benton-Sportshop junior team.
Cabot scored seven runs in the first inning off six base hits, but started the rally when Bowers was hit with the first pitch of the game. Bowers stole second and scored on a base hit to left field by Sullivan. Dillon Thomas popped up to shortstop before Gilbertson singled to left to score Sullivan.
Vinson hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice that got Gilbertson thrown out at second. Brenden Shelden singled to right and Collin Thames walked to load the bases with two outs.
Harpole then singled to left to drive in two runs. Logan Edmondson singled to left to drive in Thames and Bowers singled to right to score Harpole for the 7-0 lead.
Benton scored two runs in the top of the second on three hits and two Cabot errors. Cabot got those back plus one in the bottom half. Thomas opened the frame with a double to left field. He scored on a one-out, RBI single to center by Nicholas Belden. He advanced to second on the throw to the plate, and moved to third on a single by Sheldon. After a 6-3 groundout, Harpole walked to load the bases. Edmondson walked to drive in Belden and Bowers walked to score Sheldon.
Sheldon went 3 for 3 at the plate, including a double in the third that should’ve scored a run, but coach Chris Gross held the runner at third in an act of sportsmanship. Belden entered the game in the second inning, replacing Vinson, and went 2 for 2. Bowers went 1 for 1 and reached base on all three at-bats.