SPORTS>>Cabot AAA explodes for 15 runs at Jacksonville
Leader sports editor
Cabot’s Class AAA American Legion team finally put everything together Monday night, and the result was a 15-2 defeat of Jacksonville in five innings at Dupree Park.
It’s been a slow start to the season for the Post 71 team, but steady improvement had head coach Andy Runyan optimistic that good things were coming.
“We’d been getting better and better, and then we had a little bit of a dip last time out when Russellville came to our place and got us,” Runyan said. “Still, the way we’ve been playing, you could just sense that a night like this was coming. Games like this are easy to coach. All I had to do was sit back and watch them swing. It was a lot of fun.”
Jacksonville pitcher Casey Winstead, who has enjoyed good outings his last two appearances, struggled against the Cabot lineup.
He sat the visitors down in order in the first inning with three straight ground balls to third base. Gwatney’s Eric Berry made one routine play and two running stops to get the first three outs.
After forcing a pop-up to start the second inning, it was the bottom of Cabot’s lineup that did the early damage. Sam Bates walked before Jonathan Parker and Justin Free singled. The two hits sandwiched a pop-up to short for the second out, and Free’s hit drove in Bates to give Cabot a 1-0 lead.
Nine-hole hitter Trey Rosel singled to load the bases, which brought leadoff hitter Colin Fuller back to the plate. Fuller drilled a line drive double over the head of centerfielder Cameron Hood that cleared the bases and gave the visitors a 4-0 lead.
Cabot made it 6-0 with a brief two-out rally in the third. Bates walked for the second time and Parker hit a line-drive home run over the left field wall.
Jacksonville put together a small rally in the third, but it was thwarted by Cabot catcher Shayne Burgan. Three of Jacksonville’s four batters in the inning reached base, but only one scored.
Larry Simone walked with one out, but was caught stealing by Burgan. Blake Mattison beat out an infield grounder for a single, and reached second when a late throw was high over Bates’ head at first base.
Jason Regnas took Mattison’s cue and got his own infield single, and Mattison scored on the play with alert base running. Regnas’ grounder was deflected by Fuller at the mound, but Cabot’s infield was slow to react. Mattison noticed the unattended ball lying in the infield grass and broke for home, where Burgan was unable to corral a low throw to the plate as Mattison slid home.
The rally then ended with Burgan gunned Regnas down trying to steal second base.
An error at shortstop kicked off Cabot’s biggest inning in the top of the fourth. Free reached on the misplayed grounder, and Rosel and Fuller got back-to-back bunt singles to load the bases.
Burgan then hit a two-RBI single to centerfield to drive in the two runs and prompt Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham to make the first of three pitching changes.
Logan Lucas then singled to left to drive Fuller home and give Cabot a 9-1 lead. Drew Burks and Bates flew out to the outfield for the first two outs of the inning. Parker then walked and Sean Clarkson got a two-RBI single to centerfield to make it 11-1.
Jacksonville’s final run came when Zach Thomas reached on an error at third base and Brian Thurman hit an RBI single to left field in the bottom of the fourth.
Cabot the final touches on the win in the fifth. Rosel started things with a walk before Justin Haas, who was hitting for Fuller, reached with a pop up single down the line in shallow left field. Burgan then reached on an error at shortstop and Lucas hit a sacrifice grounder to score Rosel.
Ben Wainwright then stepped to the plate in place of Burks, and hit a three-run homerun to left field to set the final margin.
Haas took the mound in the bottom of the fifth. After giving up a hard, leadoff line drive double to right-centerfield by Ricky Tomboli, Haas fanned the next three batters in order to seal the victory.
Fuller got the win on the mound. He pitched four innings, gave up four hits and no earned runs, while striking out three and walking two.
Cabot got 11 base hits and 12 earned runs off of three Jacksonville pitchers. The fourth, Zach Thomas, pitched to the final two Cabot batters and got two strikeouts.
Fuller, Parker and Rosel each had two base hits. Fuller went 2 for 3 with a double and three RBIs. Parker also went 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBIs. Rosel went 2 for 2 and added a walk to reach all three times at bat.
Cabot, how ??, is off the rest of the week and will resume play next Tuesday when it hosts Maumelle.
Jacksonville traveled to Sheridan last night, and will be at North Little Rock last night.