Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

SPORTS>> Hurricane blows past Cabot in conference doubleheader

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

No harm was done to anything other than Cabot’s record, but the Panthers would have liked to have closed out their conference season on a better note than a doubleheader sweep at the hands of league champion Jonesboro.

The Hurricane blew into Cabot and blew out with wins of 11-0 and 7-6. The losses meant nothing to Cabot, who was going to the state tournament as a four seed regardless of the outcome of the two games. It did hurt Sylvan Hills, however, who needed the Panthers to win at least one game for the Bears’ streak of conference championships to continue.

“Believe me we tried,” Cabot coach Jay Fitch said. “It was a tough loss.”
Cabot almost gave Sylvan Hills what it needed, holding a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning of game two.

Cabot scored two runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead and got a leadoff hit by Chris Gross in the seventh, but failed to bring him around.

Jonesboro came to the plate and Michael Johnson got a one-out base hit to start the rally. Murray Watts followed that with another single that moved Johnson to third.

Hunter Smith hit a sacrifice fly to score Johnson and put Watts on second base with two outs. Cabot walked designated hitter Blake Cobb to set up force outs at every base, but catcher Eddie Price sent a 1-0 pitch to right field for a single and the game-winning RBI.

Cabot fought back from a three-run deficit it fell into in the first inning by putting up four runs and taking the lead in the fourth.

Senior pitcher Ryan Cotroneo led off with a single, but was picked off by the pitcher. Chris Gross doubled to right field and Tim Payne singled to right center to score Gross, and moved to second on an errant relay throw by second baseman Derrick Coleman.

Kyle West hit a sac fly to move Payne up and Bryant Bulice walked to put runners on the corners. Sophomore Colin Fuller hit a sac fly to score Payne. West and Bulice then scored on a two-RBI single by second baseman Kyle Stoner.

Jonesboro reclaimed the lead in the fifth, but another two-RBI base hit by Stoner against scored West and Bulice’s pinch runner Bronson Britt. Stoner finished the game 2 for 2 with a walk and four RBIs.

One good thing that came out of the game was the performance of sophomore pitcher Justin Haas, who impressed Fitch in relief duty for Cotroneo. Cabot’s top three pitchers this year are seniors, so Fitch was very pleased to see how well Haas performed against one of the state’s best hitting teams.

“He did a great job of hitting spots and mixing his pitches up,” Fitch said. “As he matures with these big games under his belt and gets a little stronger, he’s going to be tough to beat over the next two years.”

Cabot was not in game one after the second inning. The first inning was a scoreless one for both teams, but Jonesboro put up six in the second and five in the third to set the final margin. Jonesboro ace Jack McGrath gave up just two hits, a double in the third by Neal Hatcher, and a single in the fourth by designated hitter Britt.

The Panthers finish conference play with a 7-7 record, and fall to 12-7 overall. They play North Pulaski at home on Friday before heading to Bryant Saturday.