Leader Blues

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SPORTS >>Cabot holds off Badgers

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Cabot relied on solid pitching and defense for six innings, but needed a little luck closing the deal on Monday at Gilliam Fields.

Panther pitching allowed only one hit, then held off a Beebe rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 3-1 win in non-conference play, in a game that served as a league warm-up for both teams.

The Badgers’ rally began with a Cabot error, followed by a single into shallow center by Chris Blundell that put the tying run in scoring position. A passed ball on strike three to Wes Armstrong set the confusing finale in motion.

Armstrong was automatically out with Blundell occupying first, but sprinted toward the bag at the encouragement of the crowd behind him. That resulted in a high throw to second base by catcher Shayne Burgan, which was picked up by senior outfielder Jeremy Wilson.

Blundell quickly made his way to second base, but the Badger courtesy runner stayed in place. By the time he finally moved toward third, Wilson had run the ball in from the outfield and tagged him out between second and third to record the second out.

Burgan ended the game by picking off a Beebe runner at second base.

The win went to starting sophomore pitcher Matt Evans, who improved to 3-0 as a starter. Evans went four innings, with senior Sean Clarkson coming in from left field to close for the Panthers.

“That was our top-two guysthat we threw tonight,” Panthers coach Jay Fitch said. “We didn’t give up very much; they got that blooper to center, and that’s about it. I thought our senior Sean Clarkson did a good job of coming in and throwing strikes.

Our pitching was definitely the highlight of the game for us.”

Evans’ four-inning stint resulted in four strikeouts, two walks and one run, and Clarkson’s entry onto the mound in the fifth started out just as strong, pitching a three-up, three-down inning.

“Evans is learning to put more velocity into his pitches,” Fitch said. “He still has some work to do on his off-speed, but his capabilities at the mound keep improving.”

The Panthers looked good early offensively, scoring two runs in the first inning, and adding their final run in the top of the second inning off a double by Powell Bryant that drove in Jackson Chism.

Chism reached on a single to left field, stole second and went to third on Trey Rosel’s groundout.

Bryant got Cabot started early, reaching on an infield single leading off the first. He gave Cabot a 1-0 lead on Evans’ double to left. Evans eventually came around on a throwing error.

Senior Sam Bates, who is coming off a recent trip to the 7A state basketball playoffs, found his baseball legs quickly in his first game back on the diamond, belting a double off Zach Kersey.

Kersey found his bearings after the second inning and made it through the fourth inning, before Griffin Glaude relieved him.

Glaude allowed one hit in two innings before Blundell closed out the game for the Badgers.

“I wasn’t real pleased with the way we hit,” Fitch said. “Some of them looked good the first couple of trips, but we looked lost at the plate during some of our later attempts. We’re still inconsistent with our batting. Hopefully, it is something that we can improve on before we start our conference games later on this week.”

Beebe’s only run in the game came in the second inning. Blundell led off the inning with a walk from Evans, and eventually scored on Williams’ ground out.

Bryant and Evans both finished 2-for-3 with a double, and Matthew Turner added a pair of singles for another 2-for-3 performance to lead Cabot. Blundell recorded Beebe’s only hit in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Panthers improved to 6-1 on the year with the win. Cabot will start conference play tomorrow at North Little Rock. Beebe began league play with a doubleheader at Greene County Tech last night after Leader deadlines.