Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

SPORTS>>Cabot edges past Gwatney

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The Cabot AAA team got its second win of the year over Jacksonville Monday night at the Brian Wade Sports Complex in Cabot, but it was much tougher than the big win it got two weeks ago in Jacksonville. The AAA Post 71 team knocked off Gwatney 5-2 on just four hits off Jacksonville starter Casey Winstead.

“We knew Jacksonville was better than the score looked the last time we played them,” Cabot coach Andy Runyan said. “They came in here and played some good baseball. Their pitcher did a good job keeping the ball down on us, but we did a good job of playing some small ball and executing on defense and we were able to get the win.”

Winstead went the distance for Gwatney, giving up four hits and two earned runs while striking out five and walking three. Cabot’s two earned runs came in the first inning, the rest were the result of five errors and a couple of balks that put runners in scoring position.

Cabot starter Sean Clarkson threw six innings for Cabot to get the win. He also gave up four hits and zero earned runs while fanning two and walking two.

Jacksonville got its two runs in the top of the first inning. Blake Mattison led off with a hit, sending the first pitch of the game into centerfield. But he was picked off by Clarkson on the next at bat for the first out. Adam Ussery then walked before a pop up to shortstop was caught for the second out. Zach Thomas then hit a fly ball into right field that was dropped, leaving the runners safe. Brian Thurman made Cabot pay for the mistake by hitting a line-drive double down the third base line. The shot scored the two runners, but Thurman was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.

Eric Berry singled with two outs in the second inning for Jacksonville and Thomas singled to lead off the fourth. That was Gwatney’s last threat at scoring as the last nine Gwatney batters went down in order over the last three innings. Fuller pitched the last inning for Cabot to get the save.

It wasn’t the last hard hits by the Gwatney lineup, but Cabot’s defense made the plays it needed.

The most notable play came with one out in the top of the second inning. Jacksonville’s Caleb Mitchell hit a high, star-scraping shot to deep where Burks made a running, over-the-shoulder catch a few feet from the wall in right field.
“Drew made one of the most outstanding defensive plays of the year,” Runyan said.

The first inning was peak and valley for Winstead. He started on fire by striking out one and two hitters Colin Fuller and Shayne Burgan. The lefties in Cabot’s lineup, Drew Burks and Sam Bates, had a bead on Winstead to start the game. Burks singled to right-centerfield and Bates drilled a shot over the wall down the power alley in right to tie the game at two runs apiece.

Winstead retired Cabot in order in the second inning, but two errors at first base and one in centerfield gave Cabot a 3-2 lead in the third.

Jeremy Wilson got a two-out double in the fourth inning, and scored on another error in centerfield by Cameron Hood when he mishandled a line drive by Trey Rosel.

In the fifth inning, Bates walked with one out, moved to second base on a balk and to third on a wild pitch. Winstead then struck out Ben Wainwright, but gave up an RBI single to Logan Lucas that made it 4-2.

Wilson reached on an error at shortstop to start the bottom of the sixth inning, and scored three batters later on a sacrifice fly by Burgan that set the final margin. Cabot improved to 5-8 on the season while Jacksonville fell to 4-11 overall.

A class A game preceded the AAA game, and was exciting while it lasted, but suffered a disappointing ending when umpire Gary Davis called the game in the sixth inning with the scored tied 4-4. Davis called time limit on the game, drawing confusion from everyone involved.

Jacksonville A coach Travis Lyda was a bit surprised.

“I’ve never heard of a tie in a zone game,” Lyda said. “ At the same time, we blew some opportunities and shouldn’t have been tied at that point. I know this too, we’re still the only undefeated team in our district, so I’m still thinking we should get that number one seed” (in the zone tournament).

Over the weekend, Cabot and Jacksonville each went 1-1 to close out their last two games of the Sheridan Wooden Bat Classic.

Cabot lost 2-0 to despite a one-hitter thrown by Clarkson on Friday. They came back to close the event with a win over Bryant. Jacksonville followed its 3-1 loss to Hot Springs Lakeside with an 8-1 win over Bryant, and finished the tournament with a 9-0 loss to Camden.