Saturday, May 14, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers go 1-1 at 7A state

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers got a 4-0 win over Rogers in the first round of the Class 7A state baseball tournament on Thursday at North Little Rock’s Burns Park, but had to turn around and play tournament favorite Bryant in Friday’s quarterfinal round, and despite a valiant effort, Cabot came up on the losing end of that 4-0 decision.

Cabot (19-10) could only manage two hits off of Bryant senior pitcher Zack Jackson on Friday, but the Panthers got a solid outing from junior right-hander Logan Gilbertson, who pitched all six innings while giving up just three hits.

The game was scoreless through the first four innings of play, but Bryant (26-2) got all four of its runs in the bottom of the fifth to secure the lead for good. The Hornets loaded the bases with one out before Logan Allen was hit by a pitch. That allowed Arron Orender to score and give Bryant a 1-0 advantage.

Dylan Hurt followed with a sacrifice fly to center field, and fellow senior Evan Lee hit a two-RBI triple the next at-bat to set the final score.

Lee, Orender and Seth Tucker had Bryant’s three hits Friday. Three- and four-hole hitters Denver Mullins and Eric Larsen had Cabot’s two hits. They each went 1 for 3. Jackson threw all seven innings for Bryant, finishing with eight strikeouts and no walks. Gilbertson had two strikeouts and issued just two walks.

In Thursday’s tournament-opening game, Rogers didn’t start University of Arkansas signee Harrison Heffley, a senior left-hander. The Mounties were hoping to save him for a quarterfinal game against Bryant, but they had to beat Cabot in order to get a shot at the No. 1 Central-seeded Hornets, who received a bye to the quarterfinal round.

Instead, the No. 3 West seed Mounties (17-7) started freshman McKayden Templeton, and the Panthers jumped on the freshman early. Cabot, the No. 3 East seed, scored two of its four runs in the top of the first inning.

Jake Slunder hit a bloop double to start the game and Mullins and Larsen followed with consecutive singles. Larsen’s single drove in Slunder for a 1-0 Cabot lead. Braden Jarnigan followed with a squeeze bunt that turned into a single and scored Caleb Harpole, Mullins’ courtesy runner.

The Panthers added another run in the third inning. Right fielder Brett Brockinton walked to lead off the inning. Shortstop Kyler Franks followed with a bunt single and Slunder blooped a single to left field the next at-bat.

That brought left fielder Bobby Joe Duncan to the plate, and he laid a bunt down the first base line that scored Brockinton for a 3-0 CHS lead. The Panthers’ final run of the day came in the top of the fifth on a two-out, RBI single off the bat of first baseman Brodey Schluter. That drove in Jarnigan to set the final score of that game.

Panther ace Chase Kyzer earned the win on the mound Thursday. He pitched all seven innings, finishing with five strikeouts and no walks issued. Cabot outhit Rogers 12-7, and four different Panthers had multiple hits.

Slunder, Mullins, Jarnigan and Schluter each had two hits against the Mounties, while Duncan, Larsen, Dillon Thomas and Franks had one hit apiece. RHS center fielder Grayson Lee led all players at the plate, going 3 for 4. First baseman Max Horton was the only other player with multiple hits for the Mounties. He was 2 for 3.