Cyclones turn away 'Landers push win streak to four games

By Ivan Sanders

STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   A streak was on the line for the Cyclones, one that had not been realized in a long time.
   The Elizabethton Cyclones kept their winning ways as they stretched their win streak to four straight with a 12-2 decision over the visiting Cloudland Highlanders at Joe O'Brien Field.
   The game was much closer than the score indicated as the Highlanders stayed with the Cyclones through five good innings.
   "The guys played five tough innings against a very good Elizabethton team," stated Cloudland head coach Jeff Bradley. "We lost one today just like we won yesterday.....walks."
   Cloudland gained the upper hand in the second by scoring two runs off lefty Zack Stipe of the Cyclones.
   James Gardner reached on an error and took an additional base on the bad throw. Mark Barnett walked and Dale Baker was nailed by Stipe to load the bases.
   Clint Steiner gained a free pass scoring Gardner. Barnett raced home to score on a wild pitch with Baker and Steiner advancing a bag.
   Stipe settled down to get three consecutive outs to end the inning with two of the three being strikeouts.
   The Cyclones and Highlanders both were dispersed easily in their next at-bats, going three up and three down.
   In the bottom of the third, EHS broke into the scoring column as right fielder Adam Greenlee walked and stole second base. B.J. Miller picked up the RBI with a single that scored the speedy Greenlee from second.
   Stipe did a masterful job of settling down to hold the 'Landers scoreless over their next two frames. Josh Johnson matched Stipe as the Cloudland lefty held the Cyclones scoreless in the bottom of the fourth.
   The Cyclones did threaten in the fourth inning with the bases loaded, but a mis-read sign by Bray caused the young catcher to bunt into the air and allow the 'Landers to pick up a double play as Range was late getting back to the bag.
   EHS plated the tying run in the bottom of the fifth as Jeremy Hodge reached on a dropped third strike and took second on a Greenlee ground out.
   Hodge stole third and put on the speed burners to race home on a wild pitch. The Cyclones managed to juice the bases before Johnson struck Travis Bowers out swinging.
   Stipe began to tire in the sixth after delivering over 90 pitches and was replaced by Bowers with the score knotted 2-2. Bowers was able to take care of business and retire Cloudland in the inning.
   The flood gates opened on the Highlanders in the sixth with the Cyclones coming to bat.
   Joseph Taylor was issued a base-on-balls and Nathan Bishop pinch ran for Taylor. Bray was pegged in the leg by a pitch and Jake Berkley was sent in as a runner for Bray.
   Hodge then was plunked as well to load the bases. Greenlee battled for a walk to score Bishop and Miller picked up an RBI with a walk to score Berkley.
   Justin Williams kept the walk-train rolling as he took first to score Hodge. Range became walk victim number five, scoring Greenlee.
   Bowers then laid the smack down on a pitch to clean the base path for the Cyclones with a stand up double. First baseman Kelly Adkins then got into the walk act with free pass number six in the inning.
   If six wasn't enough, Bray took walk number seven and Michael Porter came in as a courtesy runner for Bray. Hodge then smoked a single to score Bowers and Adkins with Porter churning all the way from first to score run number 10 in the frame and a close to the action as the 10-run mercy rule was in effect.
   "We're just playing loose right now and having fun," said Hodge after the game. "Coach moved me down to ninth so I could see some more fast balls and get my swing down and that really helped me in my hitting."
   "I don't remember us having a four game win streak," said a smiling Steve McKinney after the game. "We started some of our younger kids today to get them playing time so we were a little flat at first, but we really turned it on down the stretch."
   The Cyclones will entertain Johnson County on Tuesday afternoon at Joe O'Brien Field. The starting time has yet to be announced.