SPORTS >> Conway cuts down Cabot
By TODD TRAUB
Leader sports editor
Players get into the ballpark for free but Conway still found a way to make Cabot pay on its home turf Tuesday.
The Wampus Cats took advantage of three Panthers’ errors on the way to a 4-2, 7A Central Conference victory at Conrade Field.
A miscue cost Cabot a run in Conway’s two-run fourth and another error led to a run in the Wampus Cats’ sixth. The cushion helped Conway survive the seventh, when Cabot loaded the bases but got just one run.
“I don’t know how many bases that we gave them on missing the ball in center field, making a bad throw,” Cabot coach Jay Fitch said. “We didn’t keep the double play in order and against a good quality bunch that will hurt you every time.”
Cabot center fielder Joe Bryant overran Tyler Langley’s single to center for a two-base error in the fourth and Langley scored when Jordan Cates grounded into a double play. Panthers first baseman Tyler Erickson and reliever Chase Beasley couldn’t connect on a flip to first as Beasley covered the bag in the sixth, and Wesley Hoover scored from third on the play to make it 4-1.
“We hit the ball okay,” Conway coach Noel Boucher said. “We put the ball in play. They made some good plays. It’s conference time and so everybody’s going to put their best forward and they’ve got a good ballclub so we’re fortunate to win on the road.”
Cabot (6-3, 0-2) still had a shot in the bottom of the seventh. Powell Bryant drew a one-out walk, Andrew Reynolds singled and right-handed, sidearm reliever Andrew Adams walked Matt Evans, the last hitter he faced, to load the bases.
“Any time you’ve got a funky delivery, a little sidearmer, you don’t see that a lot,” Fitch said. “So it’s something that takes a little getting used to and once we saw it and made him throw strikes we hit him. So it’s about making adjustments and they got him out at the right time and coach Boucher’s a great coach.”
Erickson singled to left off reliever Matt Lefler to drive in Powell Bryant and keep the bases full, but Lefler struck out Brandon Surdam and Justin Goff hit into a force play to end the game.
“It’s not rocket science,” Fitch said. “When we didn’t swing at balls in the dirt, we hit it decent and hit it well early in the game, just couldn’t get much to fall. Man we’re just kind of not getting breaks No. 1 and not helping ourselves swinging at bad pitches.”
Conway starter Bo Stitch went 5 1/3 innings, scattering six hits — three of them on the infield— while striking out five, walking two, hitting a batter and giving up one run.
Cabot starter Cole Nicholson worked five solid innings, giving up four runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
“He just got tired; it’s still pretty early in the season,” Boucher said praising the start by Stitch. “The second guy did real good, came in, got us out of a jam and Lefler came in at the end and threw some breaking balls to get us out of it. So good job by everybody.”
Reynolds singled with one out in the Cabot first and, after a double by Evans, Erickson drove in Reynolds with a sacrifice fly.
Chase Thompson and Joe Bryant had consecutive, two-out hits in the second but were stranded. A one-out double by Powell Bryant was wasted in the fifth, and Conway prevented a run when catcher Connor McClain threw out Surdam, with Adams covering the plate, when Surdam tried to score on a wild pitch in the sixth.
Conway (10-2, 2-0) tied it in the third inning when Patrick Mann doubled, advanced on a sacrifice and scored on Ryan Lazo’s groundout. The Wampus Cats took the lead in the fourth when Wesley Hoover led off with a double and Langley singled him in and took third on Joe Bryant’s outfield fielding error to set up the second run of the inning.
Hoover beat out a leadoff bunt in the sixth, stole second, reached third as Langley grounded to Erickson and scored on the misplay between Erickson and Beasley at first.
Of Cabot’s eight hits, six came from the No. 1-5 hitters Powell Bryant, Reynolds, Evans, Erickson and Surdam.
“I told them ‘It’s the greatest team sport there is. We can’t have three people swinging the bat,’ ” Fitch said. “Their pitching was adequate and got the job done but I thought we should have hit it a little better than what we did.”