SPORTS>>Cabot gets big first-round win
Cabot’s American Legion AAA team put its late season struggles behind with a vital 2-1 win over Maumelle in the first round of the Zone 3 tournament Thursday night at Burns Park. Post 71 needed one extra inning to get the job done, but found a little bit of good fortune when an interference call on Bulldogs relief pitcher Tyler Pickell gave Cabot base runner Drew Burks a free trip across the plate for the winning score in the tenth inning.
Although it was a big win for Post 71, they payed the price at the mound with six innings of service from ace Colin Fuller and four innings of work for southpaw Justin Haas. That leaves Post 71’s two best hurlers with limited time remaining, but coach Andy Runyan says he has confidence in his pitching roster from top to bottom.
“All of our kids can throw against quality opponents,” Runyan said. “I know it’s tough to use up your two strongest guys, but coach (Chris) Gross and I talked about it, and we came to the conclusion that it’s hard to win one of these tournaments if you don’t win that first game with these double-elimination tournaments and the way they are set up. We’re going to go with Sean Clarkson (Friday); he pitched six innings of shutout baseball against Pine Bluff, and they’re the defending state champs, so he can go get strong opponents himself.”
Runyan felt the effects of the close game himself, with a hoarse and crackling voice after the game when he talked to The Leader. He said all of the close heartbreakers experienced by his team in the early season are finally starting to pay dividend.
“There’s not a whole lot of silver lining to losing six games by one or two runs,” Runyan said, “but now we know how to play in tight ballgames like the one we had tonight.”
The moment of truth came on double into deep right centerfield by Sam Bates. Burks, who singled into center moments earlier made his way around the pads when he colided with Pickle? just beyond third base. Runyan instantly began to lobby for the interferance call, and got it when the officials pointed for Burks to take the plate for what would be the winning run. Haas did his part on the mound in the bottom of the tenth taking three of his four game strikeouts to stop a potential Bulldog score in its tracks at second base.
Colin Fuller started out the game for Cabot with a strikeout. Shane Burgan then grounded out to starting Maumelle pitcher Drew Smiley, who ended the opening frame by striking out Drew Burks. That would put the Bulldogs at the plate for the bottom of the first.
Fuller started at the mound for Cabot, sending Maumelle leadoff batter Matt Tipton to first with a walk.Fuller returned the favor to Smiley, with a strikeout from the two-hole slot for the first out, and an unsuccesful steal attempt at second moments later by Tipton would generate the second Bulldogs out. Matt Polanski reached for Maumelle on a Cabot infield error to bring cleanup hitter Drew Sullivan to the plate. Sullivan grounded out to third, leaving Polanski stranded at first.
Sam Bates started off the second inning for Cabot with a walk, and made it all the way to third before Smiley and the Bulldog defense stopped him in his tracks. Bates stole second, and took third on groundout by Chad Bryant. That would put Jon Parker at the plate with two outs. Smiley retired Parker with his second strikeout of the game, leaving the Cabot run at third.
Ben Pardee got the first hit of the game to lead off the bottom of the second inning, but Fuller responded with three straight strikeouts. That would put Jackson Chism at the plate to start the third inning.
Chism flew out and nine-hole hitter Trey Rosel struck out to send Fuller back to the plate at the top of the order with two outs. Smiley walked Fuller, and he stole second before a groundout Burgan left the second Post 71 runner of the game stranded.
Maumelle put two on in the bottom of the third with a leadoff bunt single by Drew Hughey and a walk for Polanski after a Fuller strikeout on Tipton and a flyout Smiley. Sullivan then grounded out to retire the side with two on.
Smiley retired three straight for Cabot in the top of the fourth, including strikeouts against Bates and Wainwright. Fuller walked Pardee to start out the bottom of the fourth, but after a mound meeting with coach Andy Runyan and all of the infielders, Fuller struck out the next two batters and threw out Daniel Black when Black returned his pitch with a dribble back to the mound.
Cabot finally put a run on the board in the top of the fifth inning. A Smiley strikeout on Parker] would have been the second out of the inning, but the ball got away from Bulldog catcher Polanski, and Parker safely made it to first. Jackson Chism followed that with the first Cabot hit of the game with a single to right field to advance Parker, and Fuller sent him home with an RBI single to center.
Maumelle turned an impressive 6-4-3 double play in the top of the sixth inning to end Cabot’s turn after three batters after Bates reached on a single, but Cabot would dodge an even bigger bullet on the bottom side of the sixth.
The Bulldogs loaded the bases with a hit from Pardee in between walks from Fuller. This would put Black at the plate with only one out, but Fuller answered with his ninth strikeout, and then caught Drew Hughey looking to send the game into the seventh inning with K number 10, leaving the diamond full of would-be Bulldog scores.
Bryant led off the top of the seventh inning with a single fly to left field, but a fielder’s choice smack by Parker landed him out at second. Smiley would then retire Chism and Trey Rosel with strikeouts to leave Parker at first.
The Bulldogs tied the score in the bottom of the seventh. A lead off hit for leadoff batter Tipton would move Fuller from the mound to DH, making way for southpaw Justin Haas. An infield error allowed Tipton to third, and he would tag on a pop up by Sullivan for the score.
Cabot had a chance to blow the game wide open in the top of the eighth inning. Fuller popped up to right field to start the inning, but Burgan was able to reach on an error. Burks singled on a hit to shortstop, and a walk for Sam Bates loaded the bases with only one out. Maumelle regrouped with an infield meeting, and Smiley struck out Ben Wainwright for the second out, and Bryant grounded out to second.
Haas sent Maumelle away from the plate with two pop ups and a grounder to second after giving up his first walk of the game to set up a shootout to break the 1-1 tie in the ninth inning.
Bates led Cabot offensively, going 2 for 3 with a double and a RBI. Fuller was 1 for 4 with a RBI, and Burks finished the game 2 for 5. Maumelle right fielder Ben Pardee led the Bulldogs, going 2 for 3 with a double. Fuller took the win at the mound, giving up no runs and four hits, while walking four runners and striking out 11.
Cabot played local rival Jacksonville, a 16-14 first round winner over Sylvan Hills last night after Leader deadlines.