Leader Blues

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

SPORTS>>Community Bank falls in 9 innings to Panthers

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

GREENBRIER — What was supposed to be a doubleheader was reduced to one very long game and a three-inning scrimmage.

Cabot fought Greenbrier through nine innings and four pitchers, but a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth inning was enough for the AA Panthers to claim a 4-3 win over the Community Bank junior American Legion team on Monday night at Panther Field.

Greenbrier answered Cabot scores in the first and fifth innings to force extra innings, and Cabot’s 10 stranded base runners through the final four frames proved fatal.

Community Bank went through its third pitching change moments into the bottom of the ninth inning after the Panthers opened with a base hit and a walk, and Greenbrier took advantage by collecting two more base-on-balls to send the winning run across three-and-a-half hours after the opening pitch.

“We’re disappointed to lose the way we did,” Cabot coach Andy Runyan said. “We had all the chances in the world during those last four innings, but when you leave 10 runners on base, with the possible max being 12, that’s just lack of clutch hitting. Our pitchers all threw pretty good games against a pretty darn good AA team.

“We were one clutch hit away, but instead, we lose in a disappointing fashion.”

Runyan’s biggest concern following Monday night’s tough loss was how it might affect his top-seeded squad tomorrow when zone tournament play begins at Burns Park. Cabot (19-5-1) opens play with a 5 p.m. battle with Mayflower.

“I told them that with four starters from the AAA team that we did some things right tonight,” Runyan said. “But I told them,
‘I’m going to be honest with you, you’ve got to be tough enough that this won’t ruin a good season.’ We’ve got some things to work out before Thursday, and we’ll get that done, but we can’t let a night like tonight have any bearing on what we do from here on out.”

The game started out promising enough for Cabot, with leadoff batter Joe Bryant singling and scoring two batters later when three-hole hitter Cole Nicholson grounded up the middle for an RBI single. The Panthers answered with a pair of singles and a run of their own in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 1-1 after one.

The pitching staff had its work cut out during the contest. Chase Beasley held the mound through the first three innings for Cabot until Nicholson took over to start the bottom of the fourth. Powell Bryant was the third CB hurler, relieving Nicholson in the bottom of the seventh. Bryant didn’t give up any hits until the ninth, when reliever Jacob Luckett inherited two one with no outs.

Community Bank went hitless from the second inning until the fifth. Beasley walked and came around on Joe Bryant’s double. Bryant then stole third and scored on a passed ball to make it 3-1.

Greenbrier did the same thing in the bottom of the fifth that it did to start the game — answered right back. A leadoff triple led to a passed-ball score for one run, and a walk, followed by a bunt and two Cabot errors gave the Panthers the tying score at 3-3.

Cabot left the bases loaded in both the sixth and eighth innings.

Joe Byrant led Cabot, going 2 of 4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored.