Cyclones upset by Hampton

By Ivan Sanders

STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   Game night at Joe O'Brien Field was a scene that was filled with dreams fulfilled for some and full of nightmares for others.
   On senior night for the Cyclones, the Hampton Bulldogs put a bite on Elizabethton in Watauga Conference action taking an intensity-filled contest by a score of 6-5.
   "These kids are a group that has suffered its share of one-run losses this season," said Bulldog captain Scotty Bunton. "Tonight it was an exciting game played by two teams, and this time our guys finally won one of those games."
   Hampton wasted very little time as the 'Dogs recorded one in the top of the first. Eric Swain doubled and came home on a balk by Cyclone pitcher Chris Hurt, while Kevin Harrison recorded the only other hit on a single in the frame.
   Good defense kept Elizabethton off the board in their portion of the inning as Justin Williams was the only Cyclone to reach base on a single, but was left stranded.
   The 'Dogs put some bite behind their bark in the second as they tallied two more runs in the inning. After two quick outs, Hampton Justin Waycaster singled, Brad Hodge walked and Josh Moss singled to score Waycaster.
   Swain came up big again as he ripped a double that scored Hodge to give Hampton a 3-0 advantage. Elizabethton needed to respond to the Hampton onslaught, and did so in a grand fashion.
   Michael Porter singled and advanced to second as Joseph Taylor reached on an error. Senior Cyclone catcher Josh Irick, who had been in a mild slump of late, came up to the plate and drilled a monstrous dinger over the left center-field fence to knot the score at three.
   Jeremy Hodge singled, but nothing came of it as the frame came to a close. The 'Dogs were chomping at the bit to come back to bat in the top of the third.
   Hampton loaded the bases in the frame as Robby England singled, Adam Miller walked, Waycaster reached on a dropped third strike and Brad Hodge walked for the RBI to give the 'Dogs a 4-3 edge.
   The see-saw action continued as 'Betsy grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the third. Williams singled sharply and Daniel Range doubled. Porter cleaned the bases by tearing into a Deskins offering for a base-clearing double.
   Hampton tied the score in the top of the fourth once again. Harrison reached on an error to begin the frame and was batted home by England on a single.
   The score remained all even until the seventh and final frame of regulation, but not before a tragic accident struck the Cyclone team.
   Irick, who was hustling to beat out an infield hit in the sixth inning, caught the bag in an awkward way and had to be taken to the Med Center after the contest. Preliminary reports are that Irick is out for the season with a fractured hip.
   England walked to start the seventh and was replaced by pinch runner Daniel Carden, who proceeded to swipe second base. Carden raced home on a costly error by the Cyclones on a ball hit by Miller.
   The Cyclones played with little enthusiasm after the injury to Irick and as a result the 'Dogs took home a big victory over EHS.
   "We seemed to lose pep after Josh got hurt," said Cyclone head coach Steve McKinney. "That's the game of baseball, though."
   Added Bunton: "I'm just glad that my kids allowed me to get into the game and play a little tonight. This is a positive win for us heading into the stretch run of the conference."