Falcons drop Cyclones

By Marvin Birchfield

   GRAY- The Cyclones traveled to Daniel Boone high school on Wednesday, where they took on the Falcons of Volunteer in the Washington County Challenge Tournament.
   After coming off a big conference win against Happy Valley the previous day before, Elizabethton didn't seem quite ready to play, as they lost in an 8-1 final.
   "We were probably a little flat after our conference win, and it's hard for these kids to get up for the games everyday, but give credit to Volunteer they did a good job," said Elizabethton coach Steve McKinney.
   Elizabethton had a golden opportunity slip away in the first inning, when bases were loaded with one out, and they were unable to capitalize.
   Nat Treadway was walked followed by two hits coming from Travis Bowers and Michael Porter put the Cyclones in great position to take an early lead.
   A strike-out to Jordan Bray and a grounder to the second-baseman from Adam Greenlee ended Elizabethton's chances of grabbing the early momentum.
   "In the first inning we had bases loaded and didn't get the hit when they had too, but that comes with playing a lot of young kids, and they'll get better," said McKinney.
   Volunteer took advantage of the Cyclones early mistake in the bottom of the first, as Bowers bobbled a fielding ground ball, which allowed Brandon Flemming to score instead of making the third out.
   It looked as if Volunteer was going to strike again after a double down the left-field line was hit by Jacob Frazier, but Bowers made the play on the next hit ball with a throw to first-base.
   "They scored five unearned runs on us, and when you do that you're not going to win a lot of ball games," said McKinney.
   The Falcons scored a run in each of the next three frames with little offense coming from Elizabethton.
   "We hit the ball well in the situations when we had runners on base, and I think we scored in every inning except for maybe one," said Volunteer coach Bill McCloud.
   An error at short-stop enabled Volunteer to grab their second score with Dee Charles crossing the plate.
   Flemming came home in the bottom of the third, after a wild pitch by Mitchell Blevins went past the catcher.
   "I threw my number five pitcher, and it's the first outing he's really had, but I was really pleased with him," said McKinney.
   A sacrifice-fly in the fourth frame from Daniel Byington brought home Charles for his second run on the evening.
   Volunteer was getting a solid performance from their pitcher Robby Smith in the first four frames, along with the fielding to back him up, which held Elizabethton scoreless.
   "Robby did a good job at throwing the ball and keeping them off balance, and that was probably the difference in the game," said McCloud.
   The Cyclones battled back in the top of the fifth, when four straight hits produced a run.
   B.J. Miller started the action with a rocking shot to right-field, and a hit to shallow center from Bowers gave Elizabethton their only score of the contest.
   "We had a little trouble hitting the ball today, and made a few errors in the field, but we'll come back tomorrow and play better," said Bowers.
   Elizabethton had runners on first and third bases, after a hit to center-field from Porter, but Volunteer responded with a line-drive catch from Flemming off of a hard hit by Bray.
   "Our pitcher threw strikes and made them hit it to put it in play, and our defense did a good job of fielding and throwing them out," said McCloud.
   The Cyclones defense held in the fifth frame, but things started to fall apart for them in the sixth inning.
   Beginning with an error and a walk to the first two batters, the Cyclones put themselves in a vulnerable position, as Byington ripped a double to the center-field fence driving-in Tim Ofiero and Flemming.
   A base-hit by Frazier scored their next run with Byington coming home, and another error in the in-field created the opportunity for Frazier to score.
   The Cyclones trailed 8-1 heading into the final frame, but Bowers was the only guy to get a base-hit, as he went 3-4 on the evening at the plate.
   "He was giving me some good pitches, but we just have to come back and do a better job of fielding the ball," said Bowers.
   Robby Smith recorded the victory at the mound for Volunteer, while Elizabethton's Blevins was handed the loss.
   "I thought the Blevins kid pitched a good game for us, but we didn't hit as well as we are capable of," said McKinney.