Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

SPORTS >> Cabot downs Russellville

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers walked their way to a 12-2 run-ruled win over Russellville on Monday night at Conrade Sports Complex in a 7A-Central Conference make-up game. The Cyclones gave up six walks in the bottom of the second inning, and hit another

Cabot batter with a pitch, all of which resulted in a five-run spree for the Panthers.

Tyler Erickson earned the win at the mound for the Panthers (11-4, 3-2 conf.) with a complete-game performance. Erickson gave up four hits and fanned five batters to take the win.

The decisive second inning resulted in only one actual hit for Cabot. Powell Bryant came away with a two-RBI single in the middle of the mess; the rest were gifts from the Cyclones’ shaky southpaw.

“Their coach told me that he had the potential to get wild, and he did,” said Panthers coach Jay Fitch. “They ended up using five pitchers for the game. I guess we got up on them, and they decided to give some of their younger guys some work.”

Russellville started the bottom of the second out on the right track with a strikeout at the six-hole slot, but followed that by giving up the first walk to Erickson. Base-on-balls for Ty Steele and Matt Williams followed to load the bases with one out, and returned the Panthers to the top of the order.

Leadoff batter Joe Bryant was struck by a pitch to give Erickson a free trip across the plate to give Cabot a 2-0 lead. Powell Bryant then singled to bring in Steele and Williams, and a walk for Drew Burks loaded the bases again.

Catcher Ben Wainwright then walked to score Joe Bryant, and a walk for DH Andrew Reynolds sent in Powell Bryant.

Cabot drove in four more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to activate the run-rule.

Powell Bryant was 3 of 4 with three singles and five RBI.

The Panthers made it to the finals of the Batesville tournament over the weekend. They advanced with an 11-5 win over Jonesboro in the first round, and made it to the title game with a 9-6 win over the host Pioneers. That pitted them in a rematch against White Hall, a team they had beaten early in the season. The result did not turn out the same, however, as Cabot ran out of pitching and fell to the Bulldogs 9-2.

Sophomore Cole Nicholson took the win in the opener against Jonesboro in relief. The hitting was spread out for the Panthers with Burks, Wainwright, Turner and Reynolds all recording multiple hits. A big number of those hits came in the decisive third inning, in which Cabot scored eight runs.

Junior C.J. Jacoby earned the win in the semifinal matchup with Jonesboro, while Chase Beasley closed the game out at the mound.

Joe Bryant came up big for the Panthers at the plate, going 3 of 4 with a home run and four RBI. Wainwright was 2 of 4. “He’s quietly been having a good year,” said Fitch of Wainwright. “I think he’s only had one person steal on him the entire season. He has been pretty solid on both sides so far.”

The tourney play and Russellville win on Monday gives the Panthers four wins in their last five outings.

“We’re still a little more inconsistent than what I would like,” said Fitch. “When we have all three of our main pitchers going, we’re pretty tough.”

Bryant was touted as the team to beat in the 7A Central Conference at the start of the year, but have now dropped a pair of league games, including its first to the Panthers. Fitch said he believes the competition is close not only in his league, but all throughout 7A baseball.

“It is so wide open right now,” said Fitch. “We could finish anywhere from first to about sixth, who knows. “It’s a trend in all of 7A. There’s not a dominant team out there. It should get interesting about three weeks from now. Whoever gets hot at the right time will probably be the team that wins it all.”