Friday, April 28, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot beaten by Bryant

Leader sports editor

The Cabot baseball team lost for the first time in conference play Thursday at Brian Wade Conrade Field. The Panthers fell 3-1 in extra innings to the Bryant Hornets after scoring in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game.

The starting pitchers, Beaux Bonvillain of Bryant and Logan Gilbertson of Cabot, who will be staff mates at UCA next year, turned in two phenomenal performances.

Cabot’s Blake McCutchen had Bonvillian’s number. The senior shortstop went 4 for 4 and scored the team’s only run. The rest of the Panthers went 1 for 25 against the hard-throwing lefty.

McCutchen’s third hit led off the sixth inning, and Bryant outfielder Myers Buck fell down as he attempted to field it on the hop. McCutchen made it all the way to third base on the single/E7. Clayton Gray hit a hard grounder to second for the first out, and McCutchen had to hold at third. Denver Mullins then hit another grounder back to the mound. Though McCutchen still wasn’t able to score, Mullins reached when Bonvillain could get hold of the ball to make a throw to first.

Dillon Thomas then bunted back to the mound on a squeeze play. With McCutchen charging home, Bonvillain again failed to grasp the ball. Thomas gets the RBI on the E1 because the speedyshortstop was going to beat the ball to home plate regardless of a clean play.

McCutchen’s final base hit came with two outs in the seventh, but he was picked off on a controversial move by Bonvillain that drew protests from Cabot coaches. Bryant then took the lead in the top of the eighth.

Matthew Sandage hit a leadoff single off Gilbertson, and Buck sacrificed him to second base. Brandon Hoover then grounded to shortstop and Sandage took off for third base. McCutchen decided to get the lead runner, but his throw hit Sandage and ricocheted into foul territory towards left field. That allowed Sandage to trot in for the 2-1 lead.

With Konnor Clontz standing on second running for Sandage, Seth Tucker grounded out and Clontz moved to third. Gilbertson walked the next two batters to load the bases before being replaced by Michael Shepherd.

Logan Chambers hit another grounder to short that McCutchen failed to wrangle, allowing Clontz to score the game’s final run.

Bryant’s Will McEntire took Bonvillain’s place and retired the Panthers in order in the bottom of the eighth for the win.

“Our first at-bat, we fouled a few off and then got a base hit,” said Cabot coach Ronnie Goodwin. “We didn’t get him around, but we really made their pitcher work. “Our next guy made him throw about 10 pitches. But we didn’t keep that up. I don’t want to take anything away from the kid. He’s a great pitcher and did a great job, but I think we could’ve had better at-bats tonight and maybe forced him out of there a little sooner,” Goodwin said.

Cabot (20-7, 11-1) is still alone in first place in the 7A-Central. North Little Rock is a game behind while Bryant (16-7, 9-3) is in third and Conway fourth at 8-4.

On Tuesday, Cabot squandered an early lead by giving up four runs in the second inning, all on one swing, but made up for it right away en route to a 10-5 victory at Central High.

Neither team played great defense. Two Cabot errors led to four unearned runs by the Tigers. Central committed four errors and gave up six unearned runs.

All five Central runs were scored off Brett Brockinton, but only one was earned. He threw 4 1/3 innings for the win, giving up four hits with nine strikeouts and three walks.

Brodey Schluter and Michael Shepherd finished it out with allowing a base runner. Schluter pitched the rest of the fifth and the sixth inning, striking out two and walking no one. Shepherd also fanned two with no walks in one inning of work to earn the save.

McCutchen led the way at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two RBIs. King was also 3 for 4, driving in one run and scoring two. Denver Mullins went 2 for 5 with a double.

Aaron Mann did all the damage for Central. He went 3 for 3 and got all four RBIs on a grand slam in the third inning.