Leader Blues

Friday, July 18, 2008

SPORTS>> Bryant’s 7th-inning RBI allows Cabot to hang on

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

BATESVILLE — Cabot Community Bank will live to see another day.

Powell Bryant delivered a 2-out, walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh to beat Bryant, 3-2, in an elimination game at the American Legion junior state tournament on Friday morning.

Cabot, the No. 1 seed from Zone 3, fell into the loser’s bracket after losing 3-2 in the opening round to Little Rock Continental on Thursday. Cabot will take on Friday evening’s Jacksonville-Batesville loser today at 4 p.m.

Andrew Reynolds reached on an error to start the Cabot seventh on Friday. Courtesy runner Brandon Surdam moved to second on Chase Thompson’s sacrifice before Matt Evans was intentionally walked.

Joe Bryant sent a potential inning-ending double-play ball to short but it was booted, leaving the winning run 90 feet away with just one out.

“As fast as Joe is, it would have taken an unbelievable play to double thim up, but it would have definitely been one out at second,” Cabot head coach Andy Runyan said.

Cole Nicholson popped out, but Powell Bryant lined the game-winner into right-center.

“It just couldn’t happen to a better kid,” Runyan said. “He struggled a little bit yesterday and came up in big situations and didn’t hit it very well. He put a lot of pressure on himself and was down on himself pretty good.

“But that’s the thing about our kids, they’re good a sloughing off stuff like that and he swung the bat good today.”

It was a see-saw battle, with Bryant taking a 1-0 lead in the second on a double, a sacrifice and a groundout.

Community Bank tied it in the third when Thompson walked, stole second and came in on Joe Bryant’s single. Cabot went ahead in the fourth on doubles by Powell Bryant and Matt Turner.

But Bryant knotted it with an unearned run in the fifth. Tyler Erickson left the game for C.J. Jacoby in a move Runyan said he probably wouldn’t have made if his team wasn’t facing elimination.

“It was a tight game at that point and Bryant had their big hitter up,” Runyan said about the switch. “It was nothing Tyler did wrong, I just wanted to change it up a little bit. They’re both opposite-end pitchers.”

As a result, Jacoby, who also worked in Thursday’s game, will not get the start today. Cole Nicholson will take the mound for Cabot.

Bryant left the bases loaded in the fifth when Jacoby recorded a strikeout and a soft liner to second. Cabot had its own opportunity in the bottom half after walks to Evans and Nicholson, but Evans was gunned down at third base to end the inning.

On Thursday, a bloop single by Little Rock Continental Express’ Drew Tullos in the bottom of the seventh inning sent Cabot into the loser’s bracket.

The game started out promising enough for Cabot, with Matt Evans and Joe Bryant leading off with singles in the top of the first inning. A groundout by Powell Bryant from the cleanup spot sent Evans in for the score to give Community Bank a 1-0 lead, but that would be their last run until the seventh.

In that time, CEI starting pitcher Drew Tullos clamped down on the Cabot bats after getting off to a shaky start. Community Bank scattered hits along the way, including a single by Andrew Reynolds in the top of the second inning and a single from Cole Nicholson in the third.

Team CEI took the lead in the bottom of the second, loading the bases on two walks and a Justin Williams’ single. A groundout and a passed ball put CEI on top 2-1.

Evans started out on the mound for Cabot, and went all the way to the bottom of the sixth inning before Jacoby relieved him. Evans gave up a double to Tyler Hays at the start of the inning, but Jacoby came in and retired three of the next four batters to keep Community Bank within one.

Matthew Turner belted a triple into deep left to set up the tying run in the seventh, but a groundout and a strikeout followed, leaving Evans with a do-or-die situation at the plate.

Evans found the Tullos’ offering he wanted with a 1-2 count, and sent a groundball to third. The throw to first was bad, allowing Evans to reach safely and Turner to come in with the tying run.