Lead, victory slips away from 'Betsy

By Ivan Sanders

   CHURCH HILL -- The winds of March were blowing with a icy sting that seemed to transpose its chill on the Elizabethton Cyclones in the latter innings of their matchup with Volunteer on Thursday evening.
   The game, scheduled as a home affair for Elizabethton, was moved to the blustery confines of Falcon field in Church Hill due to wet conditions. The homefield advantage proved to be to the Falcons' liking as they came from a four-run deficit to defeat the Cyclones 15-7 in Watauga Conference action.
   The Cyclones actually came out playing some hot baseball as B.J. Miller opened the game with a sharp triple to the gap in right center. Justin Williams knocked in Miller with a single and stole second base.
   Travis Bowers walked and both runners advanced on an error. Daniel Range managed to get aboard on another error before Falcon pitcher Jake Qualls slammed the door with a strikeout to keep the damage at a minimum.
   "We just make too many mental mistakes," said Cyclone head coach Steve McKinney. "When we mess up we just seem to go down, down, down."
   Volunteer managed a single by Qualls in the bottom of the first, but Wes Greer managed to hold the Falcons in check and help the Cyclones keep the 1-0 advantage.
   Qualls set the 'Clones down in order on three strikeouts in the top of the second. The Falcons scored an unearned run off Greer in the bottom of the frame, as Dee Charles scampered home on a throwing error on a ball hit to Miller at second by Scott McConnell.
   The Cyclones placed two more men on base in the third on another single by Williams and Chris Hurt taking a pitch for the team. Three consecutive outs ended the threat in the inning for EHS.
   Qualls began the third inning for Volunteer by reaching on an error. Shawn Peters came in to courtesy run for Qualls and was nailed at second base by Josh Irick on a perfect throw on a steal attempt.
   Greer wasted little time in caging the next two Falcon batters to end the inning.
   The Cyclones put four runs on the board in their top of the fourth behind five hits. Michael Porter singled and took third when the right fielder misplayed the hop. Joseph Taylor followed Porter with a single.
   Jason Grace came in to pinch run for Taylor and stole second base to put runners at second and third base. Porter scored on a wild pitch with Grace moving to third.
   Miller doubled in Grace and swiped third. Hurt proceed to plate Miller with a single. After stealing second, Hurt scored on a single by Bowers. Irick was nailed with a pitch before Qualls finally put an end to the madness by getting Range to fly out to center.
   The long frame played against Greer as he struggled some with his control in the bottom of the fourth. The Falcons managed to respond to the Cyclones onslaught with one of their own.
   Wes Bowery walked and was forced on a fielders choice by Jeremy Jones. Dee Charles and Joe Simpson put back-to-back singles together followed by a walk to McConnell.
   Bart Berry then got into the mix with a single to plate another score. McKinney replaced Greer with Joseph Vines and things didn't get much better as Qualls laid down a nice sacrifice bunt for a RBI followed by a hard single by Tim Ofiero to plate two more Falcons.
   When all was said and done the Falcons squeezed into a one run lead heading into the fifth.
   "That was the best game hitting-wise we've had this year," said a happy Falcon head coach Moe Cloud after the contest. "The bunts really helped and they threw the ball around a little which seemed to inspire our play."
   The Cyclones came back with a run of their own to once again even the game at 6-6. Jeremy Hodge reached on an error. Porter walked and Williams picked up Hodge to knot the game.
   The nightmare began here for the Cyclones as the Falcons ran off seven runs in the bottom of the inning on five hits and two errors. The Cyclones seemed to get out of sync and couldn't pull it back together.
   They did manage to add one more run in the sixth inning as Range doubled and scored after an throwing error allowed Hodge to reach and advance all the way to third base. Porter grounded out to end the threat.
   The Falcons added two more in their half of the sixth to put an exclamation point on the conference win.
   Jarred Anderson teamed with Qualls to keep the Cyclones in check through six innings, and Coach Cloud turned things over to Ofiero to place the finishing touches to the Cyclones top of the seventh.
   Volunteer scored 15 runs on 11 hits and committed four errors on the night while the Cyclones finished with seven runs on 10 hits and four miscues of their own.
   The Falcons go to 3-2, 2-0 on the season and Elizabethton drops to 0-2, 0-2 on the young season.