SPORTS >>Panthers beat LR Central, fall in seventh to Hornets
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
The Cabot Panther baseball team won one and lost one conference baseball game each this week. The Panthers beat Little Rock Central 5-0 Tuesday in Little Rock, then dropped a 5-2 decision to Bryant at home on Thursday.
Tuesday’s win saw lefty pitcher Justin Haas throw a two-hitter over seven innings while Cabot spread its five runs over four innings.
The Panthers committed four errors in the loss to Bryant, leaving head coach Jay Fitch at a loss for why his team plays poor defense every so often.
“It’s like we’ll play about three games real solid and then have a breakdown,” Fitch said. “It always seems to happen with Colin (Fuller) on the mound too for some reason. We play really good defense behind Haas, but like we did here against Bryant, we kick it around sometimes when Colin’s on the mound. I thought again that Colin pitched good enough to win the game.”
Despite the four errors, the Panthers and Hornets were tied at 2-2 heading into the final frame. With one out, the Hornets loaded the bases with a single, an infield single and a walk before Haas came on in relief. Haas struck out the next batter for the second out. Bryant’s Tyler Sawyer then roped a line drive over centerfielder Corey Wade’s head for a three-RBI double that set the final margin.
Against Central, Cabot got single runs in the second, third and fifth innings, and added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
Sam Bates started things off with a single in the second inning. Logan Lucas moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt, and he took third on a passed ball. Justin Free then hit a deep fly ball that brought Bates home and gave Cabot a 1-0 lead.
In the third, Daryl Murphy doubled, which brought the speedy Wade to the plate with no outs. Expecting a bunt, Central charged its shortstop and left its third baseman at home to cover the bag. Wade faked the bunt and swung, bouncing a ground ball over the shortstop’s head for a base hit and RBI.
“We had that situation with Corey before and he hit it right back to the pitcher,” Fitch said. “You can’t always control where you hit it, but he’s good at making contact when he needs to, and he executed that one really nicely for us.”
Wade scored the run in the fifth inning. After walking and stealing second base, Fuller singled to drive him home and give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
Wade also led off the seventh inning with a walk and stole two bases. The next two batters failed to bring him home, but freshman Powell Bryant singled to make it 4-0. Bryant then stole second and scored on an RBI base hit by Bates that set the final margin.
The Panthers are off next week for spring break. They will be back in action on Tuesday, April 3 at Pine Bluff.