Tuesday, March 29, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Blunders lead to Cabot loss

Leader sports editor

The Cabot baseball team did not enjoy a first game back from spring break, where it went 3-1 and won its last three games in a row at the Best of the West tournament in Memphis. On Monday, the Cabot Panthers went to Benton, where the hosting Panthers routed their guests 11-1 and ended the game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Cabot got just three base hits, committed five errors and gave up nine unearned runs to drop the nonconference game.

“There’s no excuse for what happened today,” said Cabot coach Ronnie Goodwin. “One team showed up to play and one team didn’t. That’s all that happened here. Benton is a very quality program and you have to be ready to play when you come here. We weren’t ready to play today, and that’s ultimately on me for not having them ready.”

Goodwin refused to use lineup depletion as an excuse, but Cabot lost two more starters during the spring break tournament, on top of the loss of Razorback commit Evan Hooper before the season began.

When pressed, Goodwin acknowledged the injuries, but stopped there.

“We are banged up right now, but I’ll never use that excuse,” Goodwin said. “We should never be as flat as we were tonight, and again, that’s ultimately on me.”

Benton (9-2) scored in nearly every inning, posting two runs in each of the first two innings, and putting up three more in the third. Cabot pitcher Brodey Schluter held Benton scoreless in the fourth and the Panthers posted a run in the top half of the fifth. Reliever Michael Shepherd threw a scoreless inning in the fifth. But after leaving two runners stranded in the fifth and going down in order in just 11 pitches in the top of the sixth, Benton posted a four spot to end the game early.

Benton’s four-run sixth started when Chase Nix reached on a one-out error in right field by Brett Brockinton. Brinson Williams then reached when first baseman Davis Wofford failed to catch a throw from shortstop on a routine play. Coltyn Lane replaced Williams on the base paths before Shepherd fanned Drew Dyer for the second out.

Jack Jumper singled to center field to score Nix. Lane got home on the next at-bat on a wild pitch and jumper advanced to second. Jumper then moved to third on a passed ball and Kyler Nitchske walked to put runners on the corners.

Another passed ball moved Nitchske into scoring position, and a base hit by Gunnar Smith scored both runners to end the game.

“Benton’s got six seniors over there signed for college and I think four of them DI,” Goodwin said. “You just can’t have that many errors and expect to beat a team like that.”

Cabot’s lone run came in the fifth after sophomore third baseman Dylan Thomas drew a four-pitch walk to start the inning. Brockinton hit a hard line drive to right center field but it was caught for an out. Wofford then blooped a single to right to put two men on base.

Blake McCutchen struck out looking, but not before a passed ball moved Thomas to third. Bobby Joe Duncan then singled to right field to score Thomas.

Catcher Denver Mullins had Cabot’s other hit.

Benton pitcher Jake Croushore threw five innings, giving up the three hits and earned run along with eight strikeouts and two walks. Dylan McKinney threw the last inning and struck out two batters. Cabot will get back to league play tomorrow when it travels to Marion for a 7A/6A-East doubleheader.