Friday, May 05, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers’ seventh secures a No. 1 seed

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers preserved their one-game lead in the 7A-Central baseball standings with a seventh-inning offensive outburst at Fort Smith Northside. With the game tied going into the last inning, the Panthers scored six runs to win 8-2 over the Grizzlies.

Cabot finished the game with 11 base hits, and six of them came in the decisive seventh, including three for extra bases.

Catcher Denver Mullins started the rally by drawing a leadoff walk on four pitches. Dillon Thomas bunted courtesy runner Caleb Harpole to second base for the first out. Houston King wasn’t taking on a 3-0 pitch, and singled to center field to put runners on the corners. Bobby Joe Duncan then bunted for an RBI single to give Cabot the lead.

Evan Hooper doubled to the fence in center field to score King and Duncan advanced to third.

Eric Larsen singled to center field to score Duncan and Hooper stopped at third. Kyler Franks’ squeeze bunt scored Hooper with ease for a 6-2 Cabot lead. Blake McCutchen then doubled to drive in Larsen, and Clayton Gray doubled to score McCutchen for the final run of the game.

Northside scored first, but Cabot ended its scoreless streak with two runs during Thomas’ at-bat in the fifth inning. McCutchen had walked and moved to third on a base hit by Gray. He then scored on a wild pitch, and Thomas’ sacrifice fly to center field scored Gray to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead.

Northside tied it with an unearned run in the top of the sixth.

Gray led the Panthers offensively, going 3 for 5 at the plate with one double, one RBI and a run scored. Hooper went 2 for 4 with one run scored and one RBI. King went 2 for 4 and scored a run.

Brett Brockinton pitched well for 4 1/3 innings, but settled for the no decision. He gave up three hits, two runs, zero earned and three walks while striking out six. Michael Shepherd gave up one, none earned, with three strikeouts and one walk in the last 2 2/3 innings for the win.

The Panthers hosted North Little Rock Friday in the regular-season finale. Look for details of that game, as well as a look at the state tournament in Wednesday’s Leader.

Cabot’s will get a bye in the first round, and will play its quarterfinal round game at 12 p.m. Friday in Bentonville.