Cyclones outslug Golden Raiders, 11-10

By Ivan Sanders

STAR CORRESPONDENT

   KINGSPORT -- If the fans for the Cyclone baseball program are to make it through the season, it might be a good idea for them to consider having a heart pace-maker because the Cyclones sure know how to cause the heart to skip several beats.
   Coming out of the gates like a high-powered John Deere tractor, the Cyclones scored eight runs in the top of the first and fought for their dear lives in the end to take an 11-10 Watauga Conference win over the Sullivan North Raiders.
   "The kids just came back and battled to win," stated Cyclone skipper Steve McKinney. "Before, they might have folded, but tonight they fought back and took a big conference win."
   Things started out great for the Cyclones in the top of the first as the 'Clones B.J. Miller got the ball going with a single to center field. Right fielder Michael Porter followed Miller with another line-drive single to center placing runners at first and second.
   Chris Hurt ripped a double to deep center to score Miller and advance Porter to third. Justin Williams and Daniel Range each flied out as catcher Josh Irick came to the plate with two men on and two men out.
   Irick blasted a three-run shot over the left-field fence to put Elizabethton up 4-0. Travis Bowers singled as did Joseph Taylor and Jeremy Hodge to load the bases still with two out.
   Miller came back to bat for his second time in the inning and delivered a base-clearing double, advancing to third on the attempt to nail the third run at the plate.
   "We hit the ball well when we needed too," said Miller. "This was a big conference game for us."
   Porter then reached on an error by the shortstop, scoring Miller from third. At the end of the inning, eight runs were recorded in the Cyclones column on eight hits and one error.
   The Raiders wasted little time in cutting the lead in half in their frame of the first.
   Josh Jenkins walked and advanced to second on a single by Alex Bolling. Designated hitter Jon Yates then drew a walk off starter Wes Greer to load the bases for big-swinging Chuck Odom.
   Odom didn't disappoint the home crowd as he smacked a grand slam to cut the lead to 8-4. Greer managed to settle down and get Eric Estepp swinging, Brandon Summey to fly out, and Todd Yarbrough on a big strikeout to end the rally.
   EHS grabbed two of the runs back in the top of the second. After Williams flied out, Range singled and advanced to second on a free pass to Irick. Bowers loaded the bases by drawing a walk.
   Taylor then recorded an RBI with a walk. Hodge missed a suicide squeeze sign that hung Irick out to dry, as he was tagged out going back to third.
   Hodge then reached on a error that scored Bowers. He was forced out at second on a fielder's choice by Miller to end the top of the second for the 'Clones.
   The Raiders were determined not to sit back as they came charging back in the bottom of the second. Greer hit Matt Ball with a pitch and C.J. Hackler drew a walk to put runners at first and second.
   Joseph Vines replaced Greer and walked the Raiders' leadoff batter, Jenkins, to load the bases. Bolling reached on an infield hit, scoring Ball. Hackler then raced home with run number two of the inning on a wild pitch that skipped by Irick.
   Yates was issued a base pass and was forced on a fielder's choice by Odom that scored Jenkins. Bolling came around to score on a throwing error by Williams on a ball hit off the bat of Summey.
   The score at the end of two complete was 10-8 in favor of EHS. The third inning was quiet for both teams as each pitcher settled down to record a one-two-three inning.
   Summey, who had replaced Odum in the second, again took care of the Cyclones in the top of the fourth as he had another three up and three down inning.
   In North's frame of the fourth, the Raiders became golden again, reaching Vines for two in the inning to knot the score.
   Jenkins was hit on the calf by Vines for a free pass. He then stole second base and took third on a single by Bolling. Yates hit into a dandy 5-4-3 twin-killing by the Cyclones.
   Odom, who had an earlier slam, came to the plate once again and planted one over the right field fence for a solo shot to tie the game at 10-10.
   The rally hats were on the Cyclones in the top of the fifth as Hodge doubled after a swinging strikeout by Taylor. Hodge then stole third base before scampering home on a passed ball to give the Cyclones the one run lead, 11-10.
   Vines then came up big in the fifth after Ball reached on a single, Hackler advanced to first, and Josh Jenkins filled the bases with a single.
   Vines, who forced Yarbrough into a ground out to open the inning, then struck out Bolling and got Yates to fly out to end the threat.
   Each team went relatively quiet from that point until the Raiders final at bat.
   After getting two quick outs, the Cyclones made their fans come to the edge of their seats. Hackler walked and Shaun Gill came in as a pinch runner.
   Jenkins reached on a throwing error by Irick on a dropped third strike, placing runners at first and second. Vines then issued a free pass to Bolling to juice the bases once again.
   With the tying run on third and the winning run on second, Vines delivered a pitch to Yates, who made good contact on the pitch, driving it to deep left-center field.
   Hodge, who is quicker than greased-lightning, chased the ball down at the fence to put the Raiders out of their misery and give the Cyclones a chance to celebrate the hard-fought victory.
   Vines was credited for the victory to go 2-1 on the season while Summey absorbed the loss for the Raiders. The Cyclones evened their conference slate at 2-2.
   "I really liked the lineup we had out there tonight," said McKinney. "Anytime you can score eight runs in an inning, you have to like what you've got on the field."
   The Cyclones entertain St. Paul, Va. in a non-conference tilt on Friday for an evening contest with game time set for 6:30 p.m.