Raiders edge 'Betsy

By Ivan Sanders

   Baseball is a game like no other. Where else can a team outhit its opponent by a margin of three to one and still lose the contest?
   The Cyclones managed to bang out six hits while allowing North only two for the game, yet it was the Raiders who put an end to the five-game winning streak by defeating the Cyclones 2-1 at Joe O'Brien Field on Thursday evening.
   "We had some people who didn't step up and get their job done," said an exasperated Cyclone head coach Steve McKinney. "We outhit them 6-2, but couldn't move the runs across the plate."
   Chris Hurt threw only six pitches to retire the Raiders in the top of the first, getting leadoff hitter Josh Jenkins to ground out to third. Chris Eaton and Chuck Odom hit lazy infield flies that were handled easily by Chris Hurt and Justin Williams.
   Second baseman B.J. Miller led off with a single to start the bottom of the 'Betsy first, but the Cyclone could manage nothing more.
   Entering the third inning, it looked like the Raiders were headed to a quick inning after two easy outs, but they managed to get a rally going. Jenkins singled and Eaton drew a base on balls.
   First baseman Odom, who knocked two out of the park in the first meeting in Kingsport, then appeared to take one out of Joe O'Brien, but the umpire ruled the ball stayed in and Odom settled for a two-run triple. Jon Yates then ended the inning on a pop up on the infield.
   Michael Porter and Jeremy Hodge were easy pickings for Jenkins in center as both batters went into the books as fly ball outs to begin the 'Clones third. Leadoff man Miller then laced a single and took second with a stolen base.
   Trey Mosley enticed Adam Greenlee into a strikeout to strand Miller at second.
   The Cyclones mounted a rally in their portion of the fourth inning. Williams lined a hard single and was advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Hurt. Daniel Range roped a ball that the right fielder couldn't reach as Range raced around for a triple and a RBI.
   Mosley calmed down to get Josh Irick to pop up to the second baseman and Travis Bowers to hit into a groundout to the shortstop to leave the tying run at third.
   "I don't know if the kids just get tensed up or what," said McKinney. "They just seem to out-think themselves instead of getting a hit."
   Matt Ball was pegged by Hurt to open the fifth inning. C.J. Hackler laid a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Ball to second. Jenkins then flew out to Range and Eaton hit to shortstop Bowers for the third out of the inning.
   Porter got the bottom of the fifth off to a good beginning as he ripped a single to right field. Nathan Bishop came in to run for Porter and promptly swiped second and third to place the tying run 90 feet away.
   Mosley once again rose to the occasion as he retired the next three batters with consecutive strikeouts to quench any thoughts of a rally.
   Hurt did a good job of keeping the Raiders at bay as he was able to get three balls hit into the air for easy outs in the sixth. The Cyclones were looking to capitalize in their frame.
   After Justin Williams smoked a single for his second hit of the game, Nat Treadway came in to run for Williams. Hurt tried to sacrifice him to second, but failed on a third-strike bunt attempt.
   Range then was called upon to advance Treadway with a bunt and was successful, but the Cyclones were staring at two outs with the tying run at second.
   McKinney put all his eggs in Irick's basket, but the catcher tapped a roller back to Mosley for the third out.
   Wes "Bus" Greer came in relief of Hurt and set the visitors down one-two-three in the top of the seventh. The stage was set for the Cyclones last attempt.
   Bowers opened up the inning by flying out to the right fielder. Porter hit one that the third baseman easily fielded and Jeremy Hodge went down swinging to end the contest.
   "This was a big win for us," said North head coach J.D. Colquitt. "Our sophomore pitcher did a fantastic job for us today and as always Chuck Odom came up with a big hit to basically win the game."
   The Cyclones will have to regroup quickly as they entertain Happy Valley at 6 p.m. today.