SPORTS >> Eller outduels Nicholson as Bruins survive
Leader sports editor
The way Nathan Eller was pitching on Tuesday night, the very last thing Cabot needed to do was extend Sylvan Hills Optimist Club any charity.
But extend it Cabot Centennial Bank did in the form of five errors ó four in one inning ó and by popping into a game-ending double play on a safety squeeze attempt with the tying run at third base in the seventh Eller took care of the rest, winning a pitcherís duel with Cabotís Cole Nicholson as the senior Bruins escaped with a 4-3 win at Conrade Wade Field. Eller fanned nine and allowed just six hits and two earned runs, while Nicholson was the tough-luck loser despite striking out 13 and also giving up just six hits and two earned runs.
Eller was cruising along after pitching out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the fourth, allowing only a walk and a single over the next two innings. Though he carried a 4-1 lead and a three-hitter into the seventh, he ran into immediate trouble when
Tyler Erickson and Brandon Surdam began the inning with base hits.
Joe Bryant drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Erickson scored when Andrew Reynolds grounded out to first base and Drew Burks laced a sharp single into left center to score Surdam. Centennial Bank head coach Jay Darr held Bryant at third as Cabot narrowed the lead to 4-3 and had runners at the corners with one out.
But Sam Bates, attempting a safety squeeze, popped the ball up. Eller caught the ball a few feet down the first base line, then threw to first just in time to double up Burks and end the ball game.
After retiring the first six Cabot batters, Eller issued a walk to Ty Steele leading off third. Erickson was safe on a grounder to third when the throw went off first baseman Gino Jamesonís glove and down the right field line. Steele made it all the way to third base, then scored on a rundown when third baseman Jordan Spearsí throw home bounced off Steeleís helmet.
Nicholson was in firm control and that 1-0 lead had to seem a lot larger to the Sylvan Hills hitters, who managed just three hits while striking out eight times over the first four innings. The Bruins actually had scoring opportunities in the first, second and fourth innings when they stranded five runners ó four in scoring position.
Centennial Bank had a chance to punch the game wide open when Burks and Bates singled and Matt Turner was hit with a pitch to load the bases with no outs in the fourth. But Eller got a pair of strikeouts and a popout and the score remained 1-0.
Nicholson struck out the first two batters in the fifth before Tyler Van Schoyck doubled down the left field line and Hunter Miller, who had continued an early-season slump with a strikeout and a pop out in his first two appearances, belted a towering two-run home run down the line in left to stake Optimist Club to a 2-1 lead.
The bottom fell out defensively for Cabot in the sixth. After Spears lined a leadoff single, Korey Arnoldís grounder was misplayed for an error and Nathan Eller reached on an error to load the bases. It appeared Nicholson might escape the jam when he got a strikeout and a pop up. But Casey Ceratto reached on an error, which was compounded by a wild throw to the plate as Spears and Arnold came across to make it 4-1.
Eller pitched around a leadoff walk to Surdam in the fifth and a leadoff single by Bates in the sixth.
Spears had two of Sylvan Hillsí six hits, while Burks and Bates had two hits each for Centennial Bank.
JUNIOR OPTIMIST CLUB 5,
CENTENNIAL BANK 3
Three unearned runs in the third inning allowed the junior Bruins to rally from a 3-0 deficit for a victory.
A potential inning-ending double play ground ball was bobbled and Trey Sims followed with a two-run double to left center to narrow Cabotís lead to 3-2. One out later, after a walk to Blake Rasdon, Austin Spears delivered the critical blow with a two-run, go-ahead double to left. Sims added an RBI double in the fourth to set the final margin.
Cabot had its chances against Spears, who went the 5-inning distance for the win. The Bruins committed five errors but it lead to no unearned runs. Centennial Bank failed to take advantage of back-to-back two-out errors in the third, a throwing error in the fourth and two errors that allowed the first two batters to reach in the fifth.
The game ended with the tying runs at second and third when Jacob Luckett lined out to shortstop Will Carter.
Cabot parlayed singles by Surdam, Tyler Cole and Tyler Carter and a groundout by Justin Goff into two runs in the first inning. Luckett opened the second with a single but was gunned down trying to steal by catcher Lance Hunter.
Jordan Lyons walked, went to third on Taylor Barnhillís double and scored on Zach Uhirenís ground out to give Cabot a 3-0 lead.
Centennial Bank starter and loser Daniel Fox allowed only two hits over 2 2/3 innings, but three of the four runs he allowed were unearned. He fanned three, walked two and hit a batter.
Chad Wisely came on in relief and gave up a run and a hit while striking out one in 1 1/3 innings. Jeff Brown pitched the final inning, striking out two and allowing a hit.
Spears surrendered five hits and three earned runs, while striking out three and walking two. Sims led Sylvan Hills with two hits and three RBI and Spears added a single, a double and two RBI.
Centennial Bank out-hit Optimist Club 5-4.