Cougars wreak havoc, beating Cyclones 15-5

By Michelle Pope

   The Cyclone baseball team took a hard fall to Sullivan Central Thursday evening at Riverside Stadium, as the Cougars scored eight runs in the first inning to put them well on their way to a 15-5 victory.
   "We jumped on them early and got the momentum early," said Central skipper Brandon Krantz. "Elizabethton is a good ball club and they're going to make some noise in this conference. We just had a good day at the plate, and I've got some really good senior leaders."
   Although Cyclone starting pitcher Travis Bowers only gave up five earned runs of the first 11, the ball ran from the fielders' gloves like a toddler from the dentist's chair. The bases were loaded after Central's first three batters, as Seth Hyder and Josh O'dell hit singles, and Daniel Skelton made it to first on an error.
   Batter number four, Ryan Davenport, flew out to center field, but collected an RBI as Hyder came home. Third-baseman Jonathan Toler smacked a double to left field, bringing in two runs. Ron Jones, second-baseman for the Cougars, cleaned out the diamond with a double to deep left to bring Toler in.
   "I've got four seniors right in the top of the lineup, and they came out swinging the stick," Krantz said. "Our seniors are a good group of leaders. Baseball is kind of a momentum game. One person gets a hit, the next person gets a hit, and it just kind of carries over. We just had a huge inning. Our kids played a great ball game today."
   Batting three deep into the lineup for the second time in the first inning, Central brought home four more runners before Cyclone left-fielder Nat Treadway caught O'dell out on the fly for three. Skelton brought in two runs with a base hit, while Eric Lockner and Justin Cranford got an RBI apiece.
   "Central has a good baseball team," said Elizabethton coach Steve McKinney. "They hit the ball, they put the ball in play, and they play hard. Player for player, I don't think they're better than us, but we just don't get excited.
   "I wish the kids could understand and play hard, but they just don't play hard and they need somebody to push their buttons, and evidently I'm not pushing their buttons."
   Cyclone catcher Nathan Bishop, apparently disgusted with Central's half of the inning, stepped up to the plate and sent the outfielders scurrying to the wall with a deep triple to center field. Second-baseman Ricky Garrison took a sacrifice out at first to send Bishop across the plate.
   Bowers put himself on second with a hit to center field, and soon after, Mitchell Blevins, batting 2-for-3 on the night, brought him home with a double of his own.
   "Anything can happen in baseball," McKinney said. "You can come out here one day and hit it at people and they can catch it, the next day, you can hit one off the end of the bat and it falls in for a base hit. In baseball, you just don't ever know."
   Central scored three more runs in the next two innings, courtesy of singles from Jones and O'dell. Skelton, who pumped out a double, stole home on a wild pitch in the third inning, prompting McKinney to send Cody Eggers to the mound.
   Skelton, who batted 4-for-4, hit his second double to bring home two more runners to raise his RBI tally to four in the fourth inning. Davenport, 2-for-4 from the plate, also hit his second double to gain an RBI for a total of three. O'dell, batting 3-for-4, brought in his second RBI with a base hit to right field.
   "We had a great practice yesterday," said the Cyclone coach. "We hit in the cage, we hit live on the field, we had a little enthusiasm. Then we came out here and played flat. There's just something wrong. I can fuss and rant and rave and go on, but if the kids don't want to play, they just don't want to play."
   Elizabethton made a partial comeback in the fifth inning, as Eggers held the Cougars scoreless, and the Cyclones put three runs on the board. Bishop took first base after being hit by a pitch, and stole second during Garrison's at-bat. After two outs, pinch hitter Kelly Adkins took first on a walk.
   Blevins hit a single to left field, bringing home Bishop to give the Cyclones three runs. Central pitcher Jesse Lane walked Trevor Hyder to load the bases. As pinch hitter Adam Grindstaff took up stance at home plate, a wild pitch kept Adkins and Blevins hovering around third base, but a dropped catch sent them both dashing home to make the final score 15-5.
   "We had some good things happen though," McKinney said after the game. "Cody Eggers came in and threw well. They just got on us early. We have a tendency that if we get behind early, we kind of quit, and that's not good."
   Blevins batted 2-for-3 with a double and 2 RBIs. Bishop hit the game's only triple, and Garrison brought in another RBI. Elizabethton will face Daniel Boone at home Saturday at 2 p.m.