The Post 64 Panthers moved within one win of the Junior Zone 3 Tournament championship and a berth in the state tournament with a resounding 13-3 run-rule triumph over top-seeded Cabot Centennial Bank on Monday in the winners' bracket final at Panther Field.
The Post 64 Panthers moved within one win of the Junior Zone 3 Tournament championship and a berth in the state tournament with a resounding 13-3 run-rule triumph over top-seeded Cabot Centennial Bank on Monday in the winners’ bracket final at Panther Field.
Heber Springs (6-4), which had lost its previous two regular season meetings versus Cabot by a combined score of 17-2, fell behind 1-0 in the second before responding with four runs in the bottom half. The Panthers added three more in the third and six runs in the fifth to put the game away.
Cabot (20-7) suffered its first loss of the season versus a team from Zone 3.
“We are really clicking right now,” said Heber Coach B.J. Greene. “I am happy as all get-out. As a coaching staff we have been talking about since we got here that this third year would be when we would bring Heber baseball back to where we think it should be. They are playing like we expect them to play once the high school season comes around.
“If you look at our lineup right now we only have two seniors on the field. We are really young and we might come out and lose two games [in the championship] but right now we are looking really good and I am proud of our guys,” added Greene.
First baseman Conner Lindsey, who went 4 for 5 with four RBI and six runs scored in the Panthers’ first two games of the tournament, came up huge again on Monday with two RBI and two runs.
The future senior made three tremendous plays in the field, including two swipe tags that saved throwing errors and another long relay throw from right field to third base that wiped out what appeared to be a triple. Lindsey also played a part in two double plays on line drives ¬ one to third baseman Jacob Bremmon and another to shortstop Shayne Kibmle.
“When I first got here Conner was a kid that I thought could be pretty good but he has blossomed in this sport,” said Greene. “He is made for baseball. He is long and lengthy over there at first and he made two plays where he went up to get it and had to come down and make a hard tag. He is hitting the ball as good as anybody I have seen at Heber.”
Down 1-0 heading into the bottom half of the second, Post 64 jumped on top with four runs on five hits. Brandon Loethen roped a single to right center but he was picked off first base before Sam Lee pulled a single through the hole on left side.
Dillion Moore was hit-by-a-pitch and Pierce Mitchum singled to right field, loading the bases for Jacob Blasingame, who smoked a 2 RBI single to left field. Lindsey followed with a run-scoring groundout and Bremmon delivered a two-out RBI double placed down the right field line as Heber’s lead grew to 4-1 before Cabot got out of the inning.
The Panthers erupted again in the third, scoring three runs on one hit with the aid of two errors. Kimble reached on a two-base throwing error to start the inning, then Lee’s sharp ground ball to left side turned into another error, which allowed Kimble to score from second.
After Mitchum worked a two-out walk, Lee scored on a wild pitch then Blasingame took one for the team setting up an RBI single by Lindsey, whose line drive dropped in left field, boosting the Panthers’ lead to 7-1.
Chase Vines, who picked up the win on the mound while scattering six hits, walking one and striking out two, was touched up with two runs on three hits in the top of the fourth.
Leading 7-3, Heber racked up six runs on three hits, three walks, a hit batsman and four errors to close out the game in the bottom of the fifth.
Dillion Moore sparked the Panthers with a leadoff walk and stolen base then Mitchum used his blazing speed to beat out an infield single. An error on Mitchum’s single allowed Moore to score and Cabot’s fielding troubles continued when Blasingame reached on an error.
Mitchum scored on a one-out throwing error and Lindsey walked before Cabot notched its first out when Bremmon reached on a fielder’s choice. Slade Welch followed with a sacrifice-bunt turned error that allowed Lindsey to score as the Panthers’ lead grew to 10-3.
After Kimble walked and Loethen was hit-by-a-pitch for an RBI that scored Bremmon, Lee pulled a run scoring single to the hole on left side, where Cabot stopped the ball from reaching the outfield but couldn’t make a play as the Panthers continued to give Centennial Bank trouble with their speed.
Leading 12-3 with one out, Moore slammed an RBI single to deep left center, pushing Kimble across for a run-rule victory and spot in the championship round.
Cabot turned around and smashed Searcy 21-2 to get back into the championship round, where they defeated Heber twice (15-0, 13-0) to claim the title.