Vines no-no stops 'Landers

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

  
There have been some great baseball men that have got one. Phil Niekro, Tom Seaver, and Nolan Ryan are just a few of notable mention. Now, Elizabethton junior Joseph Vines will be able to tell everyone he has one too.
   Vines threw a mystifying complete game, no-hitter at the Cloudland Highlanders on Monday night enabling the Cyclones to finally break into the win column by a score of 6-1 at Joe O'Brien Field.
   "I just started to throw harder there toward the end," said the elated Vines after the contest. "I really wanted to get my first no-hitter and I got it."
   Vines wasted little time in setting the 'Landers down in the top of the first as he was able to get Mark Byrd to fly out to open the game. He then registered strikeouts on Josh Johnson and James Gardner.
   The Cyclone offense managed to get rolling early as second baseman B.J. Miller reached on an error and took an extra base on the bad throw. Miller was awarded third base on a balk by 'Lander pitcher Caleb Denton when he stopped his motion to nab Miller trying to steal third.
   Justin Williams walked and stole second base. Shortstop Travis Bowers then knocked Miller in from third with a sacrifice fly. Vines went down swinging followed by Daniel Range who reached on an error allowing Williams to score.
   Josh Irick picked up the first of his three hits on the evening with a single before Adam Greenlee struck out to end the threat. The Cyclones were up 2-0 after one complete.
   Vines once again breezed in the second inning recording two pop fly outs and picking up his third strikeout. The Cyclones returned the favor in their frame of the second as Joseph Taylor and Miller flied out and Jordan Bray grounded out.
   The third inning was a repeat of the previous two for Cloudland as Dale Baker and Clint Steiner became strikeout victims numbers four and five for Vines in the contest. Brandon Odom grounded out to end the 'Landers frame.
   Elizabethton was back at it in their portion of the third as they got something going after a Williams fly out to start the inning.
   Bowers drew a walk and was sacrificed to second on a nice bunt by Vines. Bowers then advanced another bag on a wild pitch by Denton.
   Range walked and advanced uncontested to second base on a steal. Irick then stepped up and laced a line-drive double to left center to score both Bowers and Range for two RBI's. The inning ended on a Greenlee fly out.
   The fourth inning saw both teams place a runner on the base path with Gardner drawing a walk from Vines and a single from the bat of Taylor for the 'Clones.
   Each runner was left hanging as their teammates couldn't pull the trigger. The score at the end of four complete innings was 4-0 in the Cyclones favor.
   Cloudland was able to get a runner on in their portion of the fifth after a fly ball out from Lunsford. Mark Barnett was plunked in the back by Vines.
   Dakota Benfield came on to run as a courtesy runner for Barnett and advanced to second on a called balk by the home plate umpire on Vines. On the next pitch, Vines caught Benfield taking a siesta and picked him off second base.
   Gardner went down swinging to end the 'Landers frame in the fifth.
   More fireworks were on the agenda for the Cyclones in the fifth. After two quick outs by Bowers and Vines, Range singled to right field. Byrd had come to the mound in a relief role for Denton.
   Irick then came to the plate looking to put the ball into play to score Range. All Irick did was send the ball over the left field fence for a two-run homer and his fourth RBI of the day.
   "This was a breakout day for me hitting-wise," stated Irick. "I was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts before today, so it felt good to hit the ball like I did."
   The 'Landers were looking to spoil Vines day in the sixth inning. Cole Gouge reached on a ball that was hit to shortstop Bowers of the Cyclones.
   Bowers momentarily bobbled the ball and was late on getting the throw to first. The official scorer gave an error to Bowers on the play, so Vines was still in business.
   Byrd hit into a fielder's choice to force Gouge at second and took second as the 'Clones attempt at a double play sent the ball into the dugout, giving Byrd the extra base.
   Byrd advanced to third on a passed ball and scampered home when Vines threw one into the dirt that skipped past Bray at the plate for Cloudland's only score. Vines picked up another strikeout to end the fiasco for the 'Landers in the sixth.
   The Cyclones went quietly in their half of the sixth and then it all came down to three outs standing between Vines and a no-hitter.
   Adam Greenlee made two fantastic plays on fly balls for two quick outs. Barnett was the one looking to end the chance at the no-no, but Irick, who was playing center field, quickly circled a lazy fly ball for out number three and Vines had his no-hitter.
   "Our guys really played great defense today," said a happy Cyclone skipper Steve McKinney. "I told them not to put any pressure on themselves and to go out there and have fun which they did."
   The Cyclones will travel to Happy Valley for an important date with the Happy Valley Warriors on Tuesday.
   "They are a potentate club," stated Irick. "We're going to have to play defense on them like we did today against Cloudland."