Leader Blues

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

SPORTS >> Cabot juniors rally to stay alive

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

The Cabot Centennial Bank junior team has lived to see another day, thanks to its second dramatic comeback in three days.

Down to its last out and facing a season-ending loss in the junior zone tournament at Burns Park on Monday night, Cabot scored four runs with two outs to beat Maumelle 6-5 and stay alive for a state tournament berth.

Cabot (11-14-2) played the loser of the North Little Rock-Sylvan Hills Optimist Club game late last night in another elimination game.

On Saturday, Cabotís offense overcame 12 strikeouts through the first 4 1/3 innings to rally for an extra-innings win over Conway NBMC.

But Cabot was flat as could be in an 8-1 loss to North Little Rock earlier in the day on Monday, sending them to the elimination game with Maumelle.

Trailing 5-2 heading into its final at bat, Centennial Bank once again found a way. Josh Graham walked leading off the inning and, one out later, Bryson Morris reached on an error. Both runners advanced on Justin Goffís ground out, but Cabot was down to its final out.

T.C. Carter kept Cabotís hopes alive with a single to make it 5-3 and Tyler Cole tied the game when he ripped a 3-1 pitch into the gap in right for a triple. He came across with the game-winner on a wild pitch.

Jeff Brown got the win in relief, allowing just one earned run over three innings.

Earlier on Monday, Cabot wasted some early opportunities before falling in a 7-0 hole on its way to an 8-1 loss to North Little Rock. Centennial Bank got a leadoff single by Zach Uhiren, but he was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double.

Goff also got a base hit in the inning but was stranded.

Cabot starter Chad Wisely, who pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the first, gave up a walk and two singles to start the second and the Colts eventually parlayed that into a 3-0 lead. The Colts sent 10 to the plate in the third and scored four more times.

Cabot got its lone run in the sixth on Bryson Morrisí single and Carterís run-scoring double. Carter had two of Cabotís seven hits ó both doubles.

CABOT 5,
CONWAY NBMC 4
8 INNINGS


Before Cabot could think about winning the game it had to figure out how to score a run and before it could think about that, it had to find a way just to put a bat on the ball.

Cabot, whose first 13 batters on Saturday struck out 12 times, somehow managed to do all those things in the first round of the junior American Legion zone tournament at Burns Park, storming back for a dramatic extra-innings victory over tourney two-seed Conway NBMC. The big blow was Jacob Luckettís three-run blast in the seventh inning that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead.

It still took Cabot extra innings to finally secure the win after Conway rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie it. Centennial Bank won it when Luckett drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the eighth to force in Justin Goff.

But a game which featured almost no drama through the first six innings had nothing but in the final two, and Conway put the tying run on when the leadoff man reached on an error in the eighth.

The next batter, attempting to bunt the runner over, stepped on the plate and was called out and Tyler Cole hauled in a soft liner at second to record the second out and bring Cabot within an out of the win.

It took Zach Uhiren retreating deep into center field to haul in a long liner before Cabot could celebrate its opening-round win. Relief pitcher James McCraine gave Centennial Bank a chance when he entered with a 2-0 deficit in the fourth inning. He allowed only four hits and one earned run, while striking out six and walking none over the final five innings to collect the victory.

Starter Bryson Morris was no slouch on Saturday, allowing only two hits and one earned run over three innings. But he walked four, which directly led to both early Conway runs.

Meanwhile, Conway hurler Wade Beck was almost literally unhittable. It would have been literally true except for Daniel Foxís weak grounder back to the mound in the second. That was the only ball Cabot put in play over the first 4 1/3 innings. Beck set down the first 13 Cabot batters, striking out 12 of them.

T.C. Carter finally broke through, ripping a 2-2 pitch into the left field gap for a one-out double in the fifth. A wild pitch and a throwing error got Carter home to make it 2-1.

Though Beck retired the next two batters on pop ups, he was no longer dominant after that. Cabot put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position on a hit batter, Uhirenís infield single and a wild pitch. But they left them stranded and entered the seventh inning still down 2-1.

Beck hit Nathan Cash to start things off. One out later, Fox lined a single to center before Luckett rocketed a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left for a three-run homer and a 4-2 Centennial Bank lead.

McCraine had given up just one hit through three innings, but Conway got to him for a pair of singles to start the seventh. With one out, Beck sent a potential game-ending double-play grounder to short but the ball got through for Cabotís fourth error of the game ó it committed five overall ó and one run came in to make it 4-3. Tyler Spanglerís single tied it, but Uhiren threw out Beck trying to get to third on the play and McCraine got a pop out to send the game into extra innings.

Cole singled to open the eighth, Goff walked and Cash was hit in the head with a pitch to load the bases with no outs. But a strikeout and a force at the plate left the bases loaded, now with two outs. Luckett, though, battled for a walk to force in what proved the winning run.

Conway out-hit Cabot 6-5. Beck finished with 14 strikeouts before being relieved to start the eighth inning.