Cyclones fend off Rangers

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   It was simply the Elizabethton Cyclones' day.
   In a doubleheader at Joe O'Brien Field, amidst a lot of controversy and extracurricular activities, Elizabethton swept the Unaka Rangers 6-5 and 8-6 in two games Saturday afternoon.
   "Well, the kids played hard," said Cyclone coach Steve McKinney. "It was two good wins. This is the kind of thing we do every year when we play Unaka. We had a big feast, and it was a good day for baseball.
   "My kids played hard. B.J. Miller pitched a good first game, and that one was an exciting game. In the second game, Zack Stipe pitched a good game. Travis Bowers came up with that big double in the bottom of the seventh in the first game, and it was a great job for us. We'd lost two in a row, and today we've won two so we're tickled to death."
   The first game was a nailbiter as Unaka came back from a 4-1 deficit to take a lead going into the bottom of the seventh, when the Cyclones came back to win it 6-5 after a questionable call and some extracurricular events.
   Elizabethton took a 8-1 lead late in the second game, when Unaka coach Mike Ensor was tossed out of the game in the fourth after a dispute with the official over a ball hit by Aaron Dugger.
   The ball was hit foul, but rolled fair before anyone touched it, and could have loaded the bases for Unaka. It was a proven error by the official, but was highly tested by rightly arguing fans. Unaka came back with five unanswered runs, which wouldn't be enough, as the Cyclones took the 8-6 win.
   "This is just a frustrating situation," said Unaka assistant Steve Long. "It's really frustrating to have the officiating situation that we had on the field today. We feel like it takes away from being able to develop any type of competition."
   "The boys battled real hard, because we've had some problems we've been trying to work out with base running and in the field. Then we come out here with a situation like this."
   "It was a beautiful day, and some things start to develop, then it all falls apart because of that. We had opportunities that we blew in both games. Elizabethton came out and battled real hard -- they deserved both of the wins they got."
   Game One
   Elizabethton 6
   Unaka 5
   The Elizabethton Cyclones battled through some opening jitters to overcome Unaka with a 6-5 win in the first game. Daniel Range took the victory over Ben Cole in the decision, while B.J. Miller did an excellent job for the 'Clones.
   Unaka scored the first run in the second inning after an error allowed the walked Ryan Bowers to step in and take the 1-0 lead. But Elizabethton came back strong in the fourth inning, behind some strong swinging from Michael Porter and B.J. Miller.
   Nat Treadway, Travis Bowers, and Justin Williams contributed scores for Elizabethton, as they took a 4-1 lead going into the fifth inning. Miller did a tough job in the fifth inning, helping send Unaka down one, two, three.
   Ben Cole's fighting defense did the same for him in the next two innings, as Unaka fought back hard. The Rangers scored twice in the sixth from a two-run single from Chris Arnold, who brought in Jeremy McCann and Rusty Chambers to close the gap at 4-3.
   Unaka bounced back in the seventh with an RBI double from McCann, who scored David Perry. Aaron Dugger would score from a Ben Cole single. The glory would end for Unaka as Daniel Range struck out Bowers, followed by a diving catch from Miller to hold Unaka at 5-4.
   Elizabethton came back with a double from Travis Bowers, followed by a Williams RBI single. The Cyclones loaded the bases when an infield pop fly RBI from Porter scored Williams for the 6-5 win.
   There was a lot of controversy over the infield fly rule, which was stressed by some players and coaching staffs, as both teams invaded the field, only to have the call in Elizabethton's favor.
   Rustler's provided a nice barbecue dinner for the fans and players of both teams between the ballgames.
   Game Two
   Elizabethton 8
   Unaka 6
   The Cyclones prevailed again in the second game, where Zack Stipe took a win over Rusty Chambers in the 8-6 decision.
   Unaka hopped on the board first, when Jeremy McCann stole home for the 1-0 lead. However, the Cyclones were just warming up in the first game.
   Elizabethton opened with a huge triple from B.J. Miller, which was followed by a RBI single from Justin Williams. Brandon Collins would single, as Jordan Bray would drive in an RBI double. Three straight walks brought in Collins and Bray as Elizabethton took a 4-1 lead going into the second.
   The Cyclones shut down Unaka in the second, before Justin Williams scored another run to add numbers on the scoreboard for Elizabethton. The third inning became terror for Unaka, as Adam Greenlee was singled in from Nat Treadway.
   Treadway and Joseph Miller would be hammered in from a two-run triple from Travis Bowers, giving Elizabethton the 8-1 lead.
   The extracurricular events took place in the fourth inning, where Ensor was removed. But Chad Lewis would take the lone run for Unaka in the inning, closing the gap at 8-2. A defensive stall gave Unaka one more chance, and it fought back with a passion.
   Ben Cole drove in McCann with a double, when Rusty Chambers and Cole scored from a Chris Arnold single. Arnold would score on a fielding error, but the time ran out on the Rangers, who had two left on when a pop fly from Dugger was caught, giving Elizabethton the 8-6 win.
   Several players accomplished big days behind the bats. Unaka was pushed by Jeremy McCann, Rusty Chambers, Chris Arnold and Chad Lewis while Elizabethton's Nat Treadway, B.J. Miller, Justin Williams and Michael Porter did what was needed to sweep the afternoon.