'Betsy works eight  innings for 1-0 win

By Wes Holtsclaw

   It took eight innings and one run to settle the pitchers' duel that invaded Joe O'Brien Field Saturday afternoon.
   When the dust off the mound cleared, Elizabethton's Mitchell Blevins stood tall, but he had a little help in the field.
   In a big non-conference battle against the Daniel Boone Trailblazers, the Elizabethton Cyclone baseball squad grabbed three hits in the extra frame to secure the game's clinching run and a 1-0 victory.
   The Cyclones had only one hit prior to the eighth inning, but held together through its defense.
   Blevins threw only 81 pitches through eight innings with six strikeouts, not allowing a hit after the second inning.
   His counterpart, Michael Dillow, was just as impressive with nine strikeouts, but his team couldn't hang at the end.
   Elizabethton took the win after Ricky Garrison scored on a Charles Peters bunt.
   "It was a great pitching duel and Mitchell Blevins did a great job," said Elizabethton coach Steve McKinney. "He stepped up and threw the ball great. He battled. We needed this. He took care of business and that's what I wanted him to do."
   "The infield played super. Ryan Kennedy -- they call him 'Superman' in the dugout, and he was 'Superman' at shortstop today," he said. "We didn't hit the ball as well as I thought (we would). We hit it when it counted. This was a great win."
   Daniel Boone had three hits early in the game, but couldn't charge because of the defense.
   "The pitching was adequate for both teams," said 'Blazer coach Jerry Jenkins. "The shortstop was the difference in the game. The Elizabethton shortstop made four or five really good plays.
   "We put it in play and hit it right at them several times, but that's baseball."
   Elizabethton got its lone hit before the eighth, when Adam Grindstaff singled in the second inning.
   The 'Blazers got a double from Cory Lamson to open the game, but were erased with a double play.
   Aaron Cox and Zak Julian then opened the second inning with back-to-back hits, but were wiped out with another double play.
   In the eighth inning, Kennedy came to the rescue for the Cyclones when Dillow sent a shot towards left-center. Kennedy sprung in the air with a diving catch like an early-1990s Ken Griffey Jr.
   "First I went back, and I had to adjust once I saw I could catch it," Kennedy said.
   That led to a strikeout and a grab from Garrison to put the Cyclones in their eighth inning go-round.
   Garrison opened the stanza with a liner up the middle.
   Kelly Adkins fouled off two close bunt attempts before going down on strikes, but Kennedy hopped one over the head of Boone third baseman Caleb Cox to advance Garrison to third.
   On the next pitch, Peters bunted one down the first-base line and Garrison scored before the ball was fielded.
   "He got the ball down and we wanted to try to get him over. Adkins didn't get it down, he tried and had two shots at it, then the third strike we had to let him swing," said McKinney.
   "Kennedy made contact, it took a high hop and Garrison ran the bases well," he said. "The next time, Charles Peters squeezed him in and it was over. That's what it's all about. It was great."
   After the game, Blevins was pleased with the momentum the win could provide towards the rest of the team's season.
   "It'll pick us up so we'll all stay together now," said the pitcher. "We don't want to go back to the first two games, where we get beat by 10 every time."
   "My breaker was working today and usually my arm starts hurting by the third inning," he added. "It kept on working for me and the defense stood behind me. The shortstop, Kennedy, and everybody worked together. Usually, we don't work together and today we did."
   Daniel Boone couldn't have asked for a better performance from the losing pitcher, who did his part to help his team make an attempt at victory.
   "Elizabethton had a pretty good hitting team," said Dillow. "Bowers, I heard coming in that he was a good hitter. I adjusted my pitching a lot today."
   "Their pitcher threw a heck of a ballgame," he said. "I respect him a lot. He threw very well. We hit the ball hard, but we hit it right at them. Hopefully, we'll get better about that."
   The Cyclones visit Unaka on Tuesday at 4 p.m.