Friday, July 17, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot clobbers the Chevy Boys

Leader sports editor

The third meeting between the Gwatney Chevrolet and Centennial Bank senior American Legion teams failed to live up to the excitement of the first two Friday when they met at Brian Wade Conrade Field in the Zone 3 tournament.

After a regular-season split that saw each team win by one run at home on walk-off base hits, Cabot routed Jacksonville 13-1 in the first round of postseason play.

The Centennial Bank squad pounded out 14 base hits, including nine in the last two innings, while Jacksonville aided the home team’s cause with several fielding blunders that included four errors.

Jacksonville also missed several opportunities to score. The Chevy Boys got two runners on with one out in the fourth inning, two on with no outs in the third, and two in scoring position with no outs in the first, and failed to score each time.

In the top of the first inning, Courtland McDonald led off the game with a triple to the wall in left-center field before Cabot pitcher Logan Gilbertson hit Ryan Mallison with a pitch. Mallison stole second base, but Gilbertson struck out Brandon Hickingbotham, Laderrious Perry and Colton Goodman in order to get out of the jam.

In the bottom of the first, Lee Sullivan hit a one-out single up the middle and stole second base. Hickingbotham struck out Brett Brockinton and should have got out of the inning when Logan Kirkendoll popped up to shallow center field. But the Jacksonville defense failed to communicate and let the ball drop as Sullivan crossed the plate, making it a base hit and RBI for Kirkendoll.

Hickingbotham held Cabot hitless over the next two innings, but the Centennial bats came alive momentarily in the third. Kirkendoll hit a leadoff single, and scored on a triple to right-center field by Logan Edmondson. Edmondson then scored on a single by Gavin Tillery that made it 3-0.

Hickingbotham got Blake McCutchen to fly out to right before fanning Payton Pemberton and Michael Shepherd to end the inning, but the defense fell apart again in the fourth, spelling the end of Hickingbotham’s day on the mound.

Dylan Bowers drew a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the fourth. Sullivan then hit a grounder to second where Chris Penn booted it over to shortstop. Brockinton then doubled to right field to drive in both base runners. He then scored when Perry dropped a routine fly ball in right by Kirkendoll.

That’s when Caleb McMunn took the mound for Gwatney, and he immediately walked Edmondson. Tillery flew out to left field for the first out of the inning.

Edmondson singled to right to load the bases, and McMunn got out of the one-out jam when Pemberton hit a hard grounder to third base where Hickingbotham made a nice stop and threw home to start a 5-2-3 double play.

Jacksonville finally got on the board in the top of the fifth inning after Hickingbotham singled to left field to lead things off. Perry popped out in foul territory near first base, but Goodman doubled to the wall in left field to put runners on second and third. Penn then hit a sacrifice grounder to short to drive in Jacksonville’s only run and make the score 6-1.

Then came Cabot’s big inning.

The bottom of the sixth started with a leadoff triple by Caleb Harpole in his first at-bat of the game. Bowers then grounded out to shortstop, but the next five Cabot batters all singled. Kirkendoll’s bases-loaded hit drove in two runs and completed a 3-for-4, 3 RBI day at the plate for the Cabot outfielder.

The base hit monotony only stopped for a walk, before another base hit and an error made it eight-straight Cabot batters to reach base safely in the inning. The error, another one in right field, allowed the final two runs and set the final margin.

Jacksonville failed to score in the seventh to end the scheduled nine-inning game on the mercy rule.

Gilbertson got the win for his six innings of work. He gave up five hits, stuck out seven and walked just one batter. Adam Hicks pitched the seventh for Cabot, giving up one hit and striking out one.

McDonald and Hickingbotham got two hits each for Jacksonville.

Kirkendoll’s three hits led Cabot, but Sullivan, Brockinton and Tillery each went 2 for 4 while Edmondson went 2 for 2 with a walk in his three at-bats.

For the win, Cabot plays at 10 a.m. today against the loser of the Conway-Russellville game.

Friday’s game featured Rogers taking on Searcy, with the winner of that game facing top-seeded Fort Smith at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Jacksonville faces the Conway-Russellville winner at 1 p.m. today.