Cyclones trim 'Dogs

By Allen LaMountain

   The Elizabethton Cyclones jumped out to an early three-run lead against the home-standing Hampton Bulldogs, and sophomore pitcher Travis Bowers, along with reliever Chris Hurt, made those runs stand up in a 3-2 win for the Cyclones.
   'Betsy now stands 2-4 overall and 1-3 in Watauga Conference play, while Hampton is 4-6, 0-4.
   Hampton spotted 'Betsy a run in the opening stanza as B.J. Miller and Nat Treadway each singled against 'Dogs starter Adam Miller.
   J.W. Williams then hit a smash to short that Josh Moss fielded and flipped to second baseman Eric Swain for the force on Treadway, but Swain's relay to first was off target, allowing Miller to scamper home with the Cyclones' first run.
   Bowers looked strong in the early going, setting the 'Dogs down in order through the first two frames. Bowers pitched five strong innings of five-hit ball, surrendering two runs (one earned) while striking out three and issuing just one free pass.
   "Travis gave us five solid innings out there," commented Cyclone head coach Steve McKinney. "We still aren't hitting the ball as well or as consistently as I think we can, but it's a 'W,' and they all look good."
   The Cyclones jumped on Miller in the second frame for two more runs as Bowers ripped a single down the third base line and courtesy runner Jeremy Hodge was sacrificed to second by Adam Greenlee.
   Joseph Taylor then worked Miller for a walk, and in the process Hodge moved up to third on a wild pitch from Miller. After Taylor stole second base Jordan Bray delivered both runners with a single to centerfield that staked Bowers to a three-run lead.
   "Bray's hit was big. It got us a lead and he did a super job behind the plate," said McKinney. "I tell these guys all the time that when you play for EHS, and you play a county school, or any school in our area, you have to step your level of play up a notch. This game was not only that, but it's a conference game, also."
   Bowers meanwhile cruised through the third and fourth frames for 'Betsy, allowing just two hits along the way -- a single by Justin Waycaster in the third and a two-bagger by Ryan Deskins in the fourth.
   Hampton finally broke through against Bowers in the fifth as Miller and Waycaster each singled and moved to second and third on a wild pitch bringing up the 'Dogs leadoff man Josh Moss.
   Moss delivered a sacrifice fly that tallied one run and Swain reached on an error by Treadway that allowed the 'Dogs second run of the inning to score. Bowers then bore down and retired Kevin Harrison on a ground ball to short.
   Hurt came on for 'Betsy in the sixth and finished out the contest, having gone two innings and giving up two hits. Hurt earned his first save of the season in the process, but it wasn't easy as Hampton kept swinging the bats. However, poor base running did them in.
   "I talked to the guys about just that after the game," said Bulldogs head coach Scotty Bunton. "It was a lack of concentration that did us in on the bases. That, and we swung at some bad pitches. Give EHS credit though. They made the pitches and we swung at them. I thought Adam Miller did a good job of pitching for us, but we never did get the clutch hit to get us going."
   The 'Dogs wasted an inning-opening single from Deskins and could not score off Hurt as Taylor made a nice play at first to swipe tag Crumley out as the throw pulled him off base.
   In the seventh frame Brad Hodge singled to short for Hampton to lead things off, but then was caught off base as Taylor gloved Waycasters' infield fly for a twin-killing that ended any thoughts of a Hampton comeback.
   Hurt retired Moss on a ground ball to second to end the contest.