Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot hammers Wampus Cats

Leader sports editor

The Cabot baseball team has had a series of very close games in conference play this season, including an eight-inning, 1-0 win over Conway about a month ago. That was not the case last Thursday when the Panthers gave the return game to the Wampus Cats. Cabot won in convincing fashion, 14-2 in six innings.

Cabot jumped ahead early and dominated the whole way, pounding out 17 base hits while pitcher Logan Gilbertson gave up just five in going the distance for the win.

Five different Cabot players got multiple base hits, with catcher Denver Mullins leading the way with a 4 for 4 performance, including two doubles and two RBIs.

Cabot’s strong night started immediately with leadoff hitter Blake McCutchen reaching on an error at second base. That small crack in the Wampus Cat defense turned into an open floodgate.

Clayton Gray and Mullins followed with back-to-back doubles that quickly put the Panthers up2-0. Conway made another mistake by trying and failing to get Ty Cyr, Mullins’ courtesy runner, out at third on Dillon Thomas’ groundball to second. That left runners on the corners, but Houston King grounded into a 3-4-3 double play on the next at-bat while Mullins held at third.

Bobby Joe Duncan then singled to score Cyr before Evan Hooper doubled to left to put two runners in scoring position. Duncan then scored the fourth and final run of the inning on a passed ball before Caleb Harpole grounded out to end the rally.

Gilbertson issued his only two walks of the game in the bottom of the first inning, but got a line-drive out and a groundout to get out of the minor jam.

Both teams went down in order in the second inning, but Cabot (19-6, 10-0) added five more to its lead in the third. Mullins again started the rally with a leadoff single to left. Cyr again replaced him on the base paths and stole second base. Thomas doubled to left for the RBI, and King tripled to the wall in center field for a 6-0 Panther lead.

King scored on another Conway error off Duncan’s bat. Hooper then struck out and Duncan was caught stealing for two outs and nobody on, but Cabot wasn’t finished with the rally. Harpole, Kyler Franks and McCutchen hit consecutive singles for two more runs and a 9-0 lead.

Conway (13-7, 6-4) got ton the board in the bottom of the fourth when Cade Tucker hit a leadoff double and scored on the next at-bat when Jordan Wicks singled to centerfield. He shut down the quick rally right away. McCall Dail struck out and Gilbertson got Eli Davis to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

The Panthers then got five doubles in the top of the sixth inning to make it 14-1. Gray, Mullins, King, Hooper and Evan Larsen each hit two-baggers, with a single sprinkled in by Thomas.

Conway needed four runs to keep from being mercy ruled, but only got one to put an early end to the contest.

Gray, Thomas, King and Hooper each went 2 for 4 at the plate. Gray had two doubles and everyone else had one.

The win keeps Cabot two games ahead of second-place North Little Rock in the 7A-Central race.

The Panthers added a nonconference shutout of Newport on Monday, beating the Greyhounds 11-0 at Conrade Field. Thomas went 3 for 3 with a double and three RBIs in that game. Mullins stayed hot, going 2 for 2 with a double and two RBIs. McCutchen and Brett Brockinton also got two base hits apiece in that win.

Michael Shepherd went 1 and 2/3 innings without giving up a hit and striking out two. Dylan Billingsley pitched 2 and 2/3, giving up one hit with seven strikeouts and three walks. Logan Gilbertson closed out the last two outs of the five-inning game with two strikeouts and one hit allowed.

Cabot played at Little Rock Central on Tuesday after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that game in Saturday’s Leader.