Leader Blues

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

SPORTS>>Cabot rallies for 11-inning victory over Blytheville

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Cabot took one of its most impressive wins of the summer Saturday at Brian Wade Conrade Field, downing Blytheville 8-7 in an 11-inning affair. Things looked pretty bleak for Post 71 in the top of the eighth inning, as Blytheville increased a 4-3 lead into a 7-3 advantage, but Cabot bounced back to tie the game at the end of the scheduled nine innings to force extra innings.

Shayne Burgan finally put an end to the three-and-a-half hour affair with a single into right field that scored Chad Bryant for Post 71’s first and only lead of the game.

Cabot knocked on the door all afternoon, loading the bases in the bottom of the third and fourth innings. Putting runners on base would not be the problem for Cabot, but rather finding an opportunity to put runners across the plate for points. Cabot went four innings without a score, finally getting an RBI from Ben Wainwright to send in the first run in the fifth.

Blytheville had little trouble in the early going, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning to take the initial advantage.
Drew Burks gave Cabot its first offensive spark in the bottom of the third inning when hit a triple into deep right field. NO> 15 and NO 20 walked after that to load the bases with two outs, but Blytheville pitcher Blake Belford was able to force Justin Free into a fielder’s choice to retire the side with no Cabot runs scored.

The bottom of the fourth inning would be nearly identical to the previous frame for Cabot, as NO. 2 singled in between walks for Bryant and Colin Fuller to load the bases once again. This time Belford sent Burgan back to the dugout with a strikeout and forced a groundout to third by NO 6 to keep Post 71 scoreless once again.

NO 20 s double in the bottom of the fifth scored NO 15 for the first Cabot run of the game, but NO 20’s attempt at a run would be stopped by the Blytheville defense. Bryant singled to left field to advance No 20 to third, but NO 20 tried for the score. A great throw from left field aided the Blytheville catcher, as he caught NO 20 well before the plate to stop the score, and retire the side to send the game to the sixth inning.

Blytheville added to its lead in the top of the seventh inning with a RBI from Brian Humphrey to make it 4-1. Cabot would finally add to its score in the bottom of the seventh with double by NO 15 that scored NO 6, who led the inning off with a walk.

NO 20 followed that with a grounder, leading to a pitching change for Blytheville. Josh Wilson relieved Belford, but the fresh arm would not prevent another Cabot score by the end of the frame. NO 9 hit a floater into shallow center, but the apparent easy out was bobbled in the outfield, allowing NO 15 to come in for the run to pull Cabot to within one, 4-3.

The game was originally scheduled as a pair of seven-inning doubleheaders. That changed to a single nine-inning affair when the event was pushed back an hour on Saturday to let the field get an extra hour of sunshine after a long and saturating week of storms. That gave two more innings for Cabot to play catch up, and after the Blytheville rally in the top of the eighth; Cabot would need every bit of it.

Starting Cabot pitcher Justin Haas was retired an inning earlier in the seventh for Josh Brown, who retired the final two Blytheville batters with strikeouts to prevent further scores. Brown would not have the same luck in the eighth, as Blytheville touched him for two hits and a walk to add a pair of scores, and a balk called on Brown with a runner at third gave the Casons their next run, putting Blytheville’s lead at 7-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.

Cabot was put in a must-score situation in the bottom of the eighth inning, and came through with a pair of runs to close in on Blytheville’s lead. Colin Fuller started things off with a chop hit, beating the throw to first to put a score in position. Fuller was advanced with a single by Burgan, and he came in for the score when following batter NO 6 also singled to make it 7-4. Burgan eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from Justin Free to pull within two.

Cabot had to hold Blytheville in the top of the ninth to stay in the game, and did so with a 1-4-3 double play to retire the Casons after three batters.

Post 71 showed their determination to stay in the game in the bottom of the ninth with the first four batters leading off the frame with singles. Bryant and Sean Clarkson were the first two that reached, and a single by Fuller loaded the bases. Burgan sent in Bryant to put Cabot within one score, and another error in centerfield by Blytheville allowed Clarkson in for the tie. Cabot had a chance to put the game away in the ninth, but an infield smack by NO 15 was turned as a double play by Blytheville to force extra innings.

Fuller took over at the mound to retire the final two Blytheville batters in the top of the 11th inning, and Burgan got the winner four batters into the bottom half of the frame with his single. Cabot will travel to Bryant to face the Blacksox today at 7 p.m.