Twins prove too much for Grindstaff, advance to semis

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   Threatening, ominous clouds circled Jim Ensor Field all evening warning of a potential downpour. The only thing pouring out this evening would be hits off the bats of the National Little League Twins.
   The Twins road the hills of 17 hits to defeat fellow National League member Grindstaff by the score of 11-5 on neutral ground at the American Little League Park to advance to Thursday night's semifinal contest against Carter County Bank.
   Center fielder Zack Montgomery got things off to a good start as he singled in the top of the first. Catcher Benjamin McKinney then crushed a triple to score Montgomery with the Twins' first run.
   Craig Sheets followed McKinney with a solid single to score McKinney from third for a 2-0 lead. Roy Edwards also picked up a single while Skylar Dugger drew a walk to load the bases.
   Grindstaff's defense, led by pitcher Logan Bowling, was able to settle down to record the final two outs of the inning and prevent any more damage.
   Grindstaff responded nicely in its frame at bat. Cody Mullins led off with a single followed by another single by Brent Powell. All of a sudden, a potential scoring attempt was in the works as Jerry Berkley worked a full count into a base-on-balls.
   Cory Blevins ripped a double, while Devin Wagner walked and Brooks Cochran registered a single. At the end of one, Grindstaff had took the lead away from the Twins, 3-2.
   Dalton Luster banged a single to start the Twins off in the top of the second. Seath Heaton was issued a free pass and pitcher Lance Reed blistered a double to pull the Twins all even at 3-3 after the final out of the inning.
   Grindstaff once again managed to load the bases as Drew Clark, Shawn Shuffler and Mullins all were presented with a free pass on walks. Reed masterfully worked out of the inning by striking out the side to keep the score knotted at three all.
   McKinney and Edwards laced singles for the Twins, accounting for a solo run in the third, but Bowling also was on his game as he had a hand in all three of the Twins outs for the inning to negate the rally by the Twins.
   Little time was wasted by Grindstaff as Berkley slapped a single and Blevins picked up a triple for his second extra base hit of the evening. With two runs scoring in the inning, Grindstaff held a 5-4 lead entering the fourth.
   Ricky Jones managed a single before Bowling put a little extra on the pitches to the next three batters to run his strikeout total to nine for the contest.
   Grindstaff must have felt the cold front passing through the area as its bats went ice cold. Shuffler did manage a walk off of Reed, but that was the only base runner Grindstaff could muster in the inning.
   While the bats went cold for Grindstaff, the Twins finally got rolling after one out was recorded in the fifth inning. Reed singled and Montgomery whacked a double.
   McKinney kept the heat on as he laced a single and Sheets smacked another double to help the Twins erase their deficit and take a 7-5 lead. Dugger was able to draw a walk before Grindstaff escaped the onslaught.
   McKinney took over the pitching duties for the Twins and stirred up a storm as he whiffed the Grindstaff batters for a one-two-three inning.
   Needing a little insurance, the Twins were back at it in the top of the sixth and final inning. Jones and Luster picked up their second hit of the night and Norman Scott walked. Jason Reed singled and was followed by Lance Reed with a walk.
   Montgomery ripped his third hit of the night and the Twins had increased their lead to six runs, taking a commanding 11-5 lead. McKinney then recorded his fifth and sixth strikeouts in two innings of work to put the finishing touch on the game.
   With the win, the Twins advance to take on a very tough Carter County Bank team in the semis on Thursday as the tournament heads toward its climax with the championship on Friday night.