Leader Blues

Friday, June 13, 2008

SPORTS>> North Little Rock pounds Cabot

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

The Cabot Community Bank junior American Legion team might have thought they were getting out of the heat when their game with North Little Rock ended on Thursday night.

Actually, it was about to get hotter.

“Sometimes you can’t control whether you win or lose, but you can control how hard you play,” said Cabot junior Legion head coach Andy Runyan shortly after his team lost 6-3 to the Colts at Burns Park to fall to 11-3-1 on the season. “From the time we showed up to the fourth inning, we didn’t play very hard. We turned it on late, but it was too late, too little.”

Cabot starter Cole Nicholson was fairly solid through three innings, and entered the fourth in a 2-2 tie. But he began to wear down, and the Colts reached him for two singles and a triple to open up a 4-2 lead.

“It was a combination of things with Cole,” Runyan said. “Their hitters did an outstanding job of fighting him off with two strikes. Thatforced him into a high pitch count. He was at 60 pitches in the third inning.

“The other thing was, he didn’t get ahead in the count. When he’s effective, he’s been getting his curve ball over early and establishing his fast ball. (The Colts) have a good lineup, and they were able to lay back and wait for their pitch.”

After Cody Grace’s triple put North Little Rock on top, Brandon Surdam came on in relief. He issued a couple of walks to load the bases, then gave up a 2-run double to David Hahn, and North Little Rock opened up a 6-2 lead.

Cabot got singles by Matt Evans and pinch hitter Matthew Turner, along with a walk to Powell Bryant, to load the bases with one out in the final inning. One out later, Ty Steele laced a run-scoring single to left and represented the tying run. But Colt relief pitcher Will Harris recorded his third strikeout of the inning — the Colts’ eighth of the game — to end it.

Over the final two innings, Cabot left five runners stranded. They put two on with one out in the fourth after Tyler Carter led off with a lined double to left-center and C.J. Jacoby walked. Both were left stranded.

“Our two-strike hitting was atrocious tonight,” Runyan said. “Their guys were doing a good job of getting their breaking pitch over in the zone. And we were doing a poor job of hitting it where the ball wants to go.

“They were acting like they were wanting to hit me (in the third base coach’s box) instead of taking it to the opposite field. And that showed in the totals tonight.”

Cabot jumped to a 1-0 lead after one inning on an Evans’ double, Powell Bryant’s infield hit and a throwing error.

Two singles and a double in the bottom of the inning put North Little Rock on top 2-1, but Cabot used a two-out rally in the third to tie it. Joe Bryant and Nicholson walked, and Powell Bryant delivered with a two-out, two-strike single to tie the game at 2.

Nicholson pitched out of a jam in the third after and error and a single put runners at first and second with just one out. But Nicholson got a pop up that turned into a force out at second and got out of trouble with his second strikeout of the game.

Cabot picked up seven hits, two each by Powell Bryant and Evans.

“(Evans) has been our catalyst up there,” Runyan said. “He’s been setting the table for us. He was on a couple of times today, but we couldn’t do much with him. We didn’t get a lot of production out of the bottom half of the order.”

NLR SENIORS 11, CABOT SENIORS 0

Matt Evans appeared to have good stuff through the first 1 1/3 innings on Thursday night, but a potent North Little Rock lineup got to him in the second inning.

After making a couple of Colt hitters look bad on swinging strikeouts in pitching around an error in the first, Evans never made it out of the second inning, and the Colts were on their way to a run-ruled win.

Meanwhile, Cabot could manage little against Colt ace Hunter Benton, who is easing his way back into the rotation after injuring his arm during the high school campaign. Benton allowed just two hits and struck out six over four innings. Cabot managed just three hits — singles by Matthew Turner, Shayne Burgan and pinch hitter Andrew Reynolds.

Josh Brown came on in relief of Evans in the second and allowed five hits and two earned runs over 2 1/3 innings.

Cabot didn’t help itself defensively, committing four errors, which led to four unearned runs.

Cabot’s best threat came in the second when Jeremy Wilson walked and Turner singled. But Cabot got only two more base runners the rest of the way.

The Colts banged out 10 hits, including a home run and two RBI singles by nine-hole hitter Kell Crain. The bottom third of the North Little Rock lineup went 4 of 7 with six RBI and five runs scored.