Leader Blues

Friday, July 11, 2008

SPORTS>> One-hitter leads Cabot in opener

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

Andy Runyan’s not complaining but he does wonder if his pitchers have done something to make the baseball gods angry.

For the fourth time this season, one of his Cabot Community Bank pitchers came within an eyelash of a no-hitter. On Thursday night in the first round of the Zone 4 American Legion Junior tournament, it was Tyler Erickson who flirted with a no-no, losing it on a bloop single to Nathan Pearson with one out in the fifth inning. But Erickson, in his first full outing of the summer, preserved the shutout and the win as Cabot advanced with a sweat-free 5-0 win over Mayflower at Burns Park.

“Tyler was outstanding,” said Runyan, whose Community Bank club improved to 21-5-1 and took on Maumelle in the second round of the double-elimination tournament yesterday afternoon after Leader deadlines. “We knew he could go out there and put something like that together. I askedhim after the first inning how he felt. He said it was the best he felt all year.”

While Erickson dealt from the mound, Cabot struggled at the plate, managing just five hits against Mayflower’s own tough hurler in Shane Fowler.

“My hat’s totally off to their pitcher,” Runyan said. “He threw a great game. He was spotting his fast ball and getting his breaking ball across. We haven’t seen a breaking ball like that all year.”

Cabot benefited from four Mayflower errors, including one in the first inning when they scored twice. Joe Bryant walked and went to second on Cole Nicholson’s infield hit. When Powell Bryant grounded out to short, Joe Bryant headed to third and then just kept on running, sliding in to home ahead of the throw from the Mayflower first baseman.

Matt Turner then sent a long fly ball into deep center that the outfielder dropped, allowing Nicholson to score to make it 2-0.

Erickson pitched around an error and a hit batsman in the second and a 2-out error in the third. In the second, Erickson got an assist from catcher Andrew Reynolds, who picked Fowler off first base.

Community Bank bunched three of its hits in the third inning, padding the lead to 4-0. Chase Thompson led off with a single and Matt Evans walked. After a double steal, Joe Bryant slashed a 2-run single to left. Cabot added a final run in the fourth on two errors sandwiched around Andrew Reynolds’ infield hit.

Erickson carried the no-hitter into the fifth, but with one out, Pearson looped a soft liner over shortstop for Mayflower’s only hit.

“He came in shaking his head, but I told him, hey, at least it wasn’t a bunt,” Runyan said.

Pearson was quickly erased when Reynolds delivered a strike to the bag at second on an attempted steal.

“Andrew has been a little disappointed with himself at the plate, but as a guy who’s an old catcher, if you can catch like he’s been doing, you’re going to play for me,” Runyan said. “He’s handled the pitchers well and neutralized the running game of the other team. And he’s been picking people off right and left.”

Community Bank’s other fine defensive play came in the sixth when first baseman Matt Turner caught a runner off second base after a ground out and threw him out at third.

Erickson struck out six, walked two and hit a batter.