Cyclones squeeze by Warriors
By Allen LaMountain


   A solid Watauga Conference start continued on Tuesday afternoon for the Elizabethton Cyclones as senior righty Joseph Vines took the hill on short notice, but had enough to pitch 'Betsy to a win. EHS held off Happy Valley 4-3 on Tuesday afternoon to drop the Warriors to 0-4 in conference play (1-4 overall) as Cyclone second baseman B.J. Miller returned from basketball with a bang.
   "B.J. coming back means a lot to this team," said Vines. "He made some great plays behind me on defense, and the whole team did. Kennedy made some plays and Porter made the great play in right, and B.J.'s hit to lead off the game gave me some runs to work with. It gave me a lot of confidence. I think we can play like this the rest of the season."
   Miller -- who played in his first game since returning from basketball -- led off the contest with a triple to right-centerfield off HV starter Britton Brumit. Nat Treadway then plated Miller with a single to left and Travis Bowers reached on the first of three Warrior errors.
   A wild pitch by Brumit moved the runners up and a walk to Jordan Bray loaded the bases for EHS (3-4, 3-0 WC). One out later Adam Greenlee's sacrifice fly to center staked Vines and the Cyclones to a 2-0 first inning lead.
   Happy Valley seemed to have a threat going in the top of the frame as Lamar Rollins drew a free pass to open the frame. But he was thrown out at second base by 'Betsy catcher Nathan Bishop on a stolen base attempt and the threat went by the boards.
   The Warriors struck for a run in the second as Tim Whaley stroked a base knock to leftfield and moved into scoring position when a Vines pickoff attempt went past 'Betsy first baseman Kelly Adkins. The error was charged to Vines on the play and allowed Whaley to move up 90 feet.
   Ryan Toney dropped a bunt down the third base line that EHS third baseman Travis Bowers threw away allowing Whaley to score and putting Toney on second base, but Vines hung tough. He retired Joe Howell and Ryan Garland to end the threat and keep EHS in the lead 2-1.
   "Vines did a super job tonight," said Cyclones head coach Steve McKinney. "We had a problem with our left-hander that was going to start, so he got the ball on short notice."
   In the bottom of the third a pair of Warrior miscues led to two more Cyclone runs as Bowers again reached on an error -- this by HV first baseman Jordy Harrison -- and advanced to third on an error by Brumit.
   Bray sent a tapper to the mound, which Brumit fielded cleanly but his throw to first was wild, putting 'Betsy runners at second and third with one away in the frame. A Michael Porter single plated Bowers and an RBI base hit by Greenlee gave EHS a 4-1 lead.
   Brumit then did a superb job of pitching out of trouble as he retired freshman Ryan Kennedy and Adkins to escape further damage.
   "Brumit made some good pitches when he needed to," remarked Warrior head coach Greg Hyder. "We made some mistakes behind him in the field, and I told the guys that the game came down to two plays that they made and two that we didn't."
   The Warriors were not about to lie down as they struck for a run in the fourth frame, but left the bases loaded as Rollins looked at a called strike three. Happy Valley also scored a run in the top of the seventh, but couldn't get the tying run across to extend the ballgame.
   In the fourth Cody Cannon ripped a single and advanced to third on a passed ball and a groundout before Toney plated him with a solid single to right. Howell followed that with a two-out base hit and number nine hitter Garland walked to load the sacks for Rollins.
   When asked if that missed opportunity was big in the game's outcome, Hyder said: "I'd say so. We had Rollins up there in a key spot and couldn't come through, although he hit the ball hard all day, just right at them. His last at-bat was huge, but I thought EHS played well. They made the plays when they had to."
   In the seventh Rollins redeemed himself with a one-out base hit and came around to score on an RBI rip by Caldwell -- who was denied a huge hit in the fifth by a tremendous running, back to the infield catch by Porter in deep rightfield -- but the Warriors could do no more as Vines reached back for something extra and retired Cannon to end the game.
   "I thought that Vines really battled tonight," said McKinney. "I thought he was getting tired there in the fifth and I asked him if he could go one more, and he said he could. He had that quick sixth and I felt that he could go the rest of the way and he did. B.J. coming back helped a lot, and Porter had that great catch. I'm just real pleased with the way the team played."