Friday, July 28, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot survives Vipers

Leader sports editor

CONWAY – Another rain delay and five errors weren’t enough to keep the Cabot-Centennial Bank Senior American Legion from advancing in the state tournament Thursday at Hendrix College with a 7-3 win over Little Rock.

Helping Cabot’s cause was Little Rock’s seven errors, but head coach Casey Vaughan credited a turnaround by his team after the delay that hit in the bottom of the fourth inning.

“It was role reversal for us,” said Vaughan. “I think we came out flat, playing a little like we didn’t want to be here. But they stopped the game. We helped put the tarp on. We waited about two and a half hours and when we got back out there we were ready to play.”

The score was tied 3-3 as Cabot came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning, and a four-run rally set the final margin. There were two walks, three Viper errors and two base hits in the frame, starting with Dillon Thomas drawing a walk to lead things off.

He moved to second base on a single to center field by Logan Edmondson. Relief pitcher Caleb Wilson then bunted right back to the mound, giving Little Rock time to throw to third for the lead out, but third baseman Grayson Troutman missed the throw, leaving the bases loaded with no outs.

During Michael Crumbly’s at-bat, Thomas scored on a wild pitch before Crumbly drove in Edmondson with adeep fly ball to center field. Rail Gilliam struck out before Jack Broyles walked to put two on for leadoff hitter Blake McCutchen.

He hit a line drive to centerfield, where Gavin Johnson tried to make a diving catch, but missed. That allowed both runners to score and gave McCutchen a triple. McCutchen, however, ran through the stop sign at third base and was thrown out by several feet at home plate for the final out.

Wilson then gave up one hit in the top of the ninth to preserve the lead and earn the win in one and a third innings of work.

Little Rock scored first in the top of the second thanks to two Cabot errors. Troutman walked after a pop foul should’ve been caught, and Andrew Holland singled to left field. Troutman tried to reach third on the play and was thrown at by Edmondson.

An E3 allowed Cameron Johnson to reach and scored Howard for the 1-0 Viper lead.

Rail Gilliam got Cabot on the board in the bottom of the third after hitting a leadoff single to left field. He stole second base and reached third on a balk by starting pitcher Andrew Howard.

Two batters later after Broyles struck out and McCutchen was hit by a pitch, Caleb Harpole bunted towards first base for the 3-1 out and RBI.

Cabot should’ve scored at least one more when Tillery singled to right, but a pair of base running blunders erased a run. Tillery tried unwisely to stretch the hit into a double and was thrown out at second base for the final out. Meanwhile, McCutchen should’ve scored easily from second, but was jogging around the bases and let Tillery get thrown out before he crossed the plate.

After returning from the weather delay, Little Rock reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth without a base hit. Nine-hole hitter Nate Mooney was hit by starting pitcher Brett Brockinton’s first pitch after the delay.

Brockinton then flubbed a sacrifice bunt by Andrew McDonald that left runners safe at second and third. Brockinton fielded another bunt, threw home, but not in time to get Mooney.

The deficit didn’t last long. Cabot scored two in the bottom of the same inning on one hit and two Viper errors. With two outs, McCutchen reached on an E5 and stole second base. Harpole singled to left field to score McCutchen.

Tillery then reached on an E6 that left runners on the corners. Tillery stole second base, but Howard, uncertain about the play, half-heartedly attempted to catch the throw on the mound to keep Harpole from attempting to score. Instead, he only managed to knocked the ball down and it rolled between the mound and second base, allowing Harpole to trot in for the easy run.

That gave Cabot a 3-2 lead that it maintained until the top of the eighth, when two hits and a Cabot error led to Little Rock tying the game.

Because of the one-dozen combined errors, Cabot’s first run was the only earned run of the game.

Brockinton threw six innings and 116 pitches and gave up zero earned runs. He allowed only three base hits while striking out nine, walking five (though one was intentional) and hitting one batter.

Brodey Schluter took the mound in the seventh and pitched one and two-thirds innings. He gave up four base hits and one unearned run. Wilson faced seven batters, giving up one hit with one strikeout and one intentional walk.

McCutchen and Harpole led Cabot offensively. McCutchen went 2 for 5 with a triple, two RBIs and scored two runs. Harpole went 2 for 4 at the plate with one RBI and one run scored. Tillery, Thomas, Edmondson and Gilliam had Cabot’s other base hits.

Howard went six innings for Little Rock. He allowed five base hits while striking out 11, hitting one batter and walking zero.