Jr. 'Clones tripped by Robinson

By Marvin Birchfield

   In its last outing of the regular season, T.A. Dugger was unsuccessful in overthrowing Ross Robinson, as the Jr. Cyclones dropped both games in Middle Eight Conference double-header action Tuesday evening at EHS.
   The first game ended in a 6-4 final, after the Cyclones squandered a 3-0 lead in the last two frames.
   In the second contest it was all Robinson, which gave up just three hits in five innings, winning a 5-0 final.
   "It's been like this in every game, where we've been close to winning, and we're kind of our own worse nightmare, per say, I guess is the way we look at it right now," said T.A. Dugger coach Jason Carter. "We catch ourselves playing trying not to lose instead of trying to win, but we've got to have kids just step it up and make plays."
   The Cyclones scored in the first game's opening inning, as Nolan Childers reached base on a walk, then C.J. Campbell smacked a double to right field to drive him home.
   T.A. Dugger increased its advantage in the third frame, after an error at shortstop allowed Wes Anderson to score.
   Another run was added by Bo Carter. After he stole a couple of bases, a squeeze play between third and home enabled him to score when the catcher overthrew the third baseman.
   Chris Dunbar pitched the first three innings, giving up four hits but not allowing any runs to score.
   "Tonight both teams were trying to save some pitching, and we have to come back Thursday, and we'll probably come back with Dunbar, who pitched a great game the first three innings," said Carter. "We'll ride him all we can, but other than that we just have to keep doing what we're doing, but just do a better job at it."
   Carter replaced Dunbar on the mound, and after he struck the first batter out, it looked like the Cyclones were well on their way to victory.
   After the first two hitters faced, frustration set in for the Cyclones, as Carter struggled at the mound after an error was made on a pop fly.
   "Our season is over and we start our tournament Thursday, and if we continue to make errors like we have been then it's going to be short and sweet," said Carter. "Our biggest obstacle right now is ourselves."
   The next four batters received walks to score Justin Trent, then an infield hit from Dylan Harvey to drive in Cory Templeton to cut the deficit to one.
   With one frame left, Robinson had more success, capitalizing off the Cyclone mistakes.
   The first batter was hit by a pitch to set up the tying run, and Adam Chase hit a double down the right-field line to score Tyler Ball.
   Chase came in to score the go-ahead run after getting caught in a chase-down between third base and home plate, but a throw from the catcher past the third resulted in the run crossing the plate.
   "We had a tough loss last night, and we told the players that when you get down, then that's when you've got to get tough," said Robinson coach Larry Overbay. "We got down here and I thought we were really hurting, but they made the plays and ended up winning the ball game."
   Trevor McNew added another run with a hit to left field, which drove in Trent, and a wild pitch enabled Chris Jack to score to give the Redskins a three-run lead.
   T.A. Dugger tried to rally in the bottom of the frame with a double from Carter that placed runners on second and third base.
   Wes Anderson led off the inning by reaching first base, after being hit with a pitch.
   A ground-out to the first baseman drove in Anderson, but this was the last run the Cyclones could manage.
   In the second outing, T.A. Dugger did a better job in not making as many mistakes out on the field, but its effort at the plate wasn't quite as good.
   "We haven't hit the ball well all season, and we'll hit it one game and not the next," said Carter. "The whole season we haven't put two games together back-to-back.
   "We have a lot of emotional kids and if it's going good it's good, and if it's bad it's bad. We just have to find something in between and stick with it."
   The Cyclones captured just three hits, as Zack Rasnick did a superb job for Robinson at the mound.
   "That boy pitched a good ball game, and like Elizabethton in the start of the first game with a left-hander pitcher, the ball moves and it's just something different," said Overbay. "It's amazing what a left-hander can do sometimes."
   T.A. Dugger threatened to score in the bottom of the second, after Daniel Simerly and Casey Crapps both connected for base hits.
   A walk to Dunbar loaded the bases for the Cyclones, but Rasnick bailed the Redskins out by striking out the last two batters he faced and denying a run to cross.
   The Redskins got on a roll in the third frame, when Jamie Crawford knocked a hit to center field, which scored Rasnick and McNew.
   "In the second game the momentum just carried over and helped us a whole lot," said Overbay.
   Robinson was still threatening with bases loaded, but the Cyclones managed to turn a double-play to avoid any more damage.
   The last hit for T.A. Dugger came when Jordan Hodges ripped a single to right field, but he was unable to advance after being gunned down at second base by the Redskin catcher Clayton Kilgore.
   Three more runs were added in the final frame by Robinson, with the first one coming off a squeeze play at home.
   A throw from third base to home was over the head of the catcher, which allowed Dylan Harvey to score.
   The last two runs came from a double by Kilgore down the right-field line, which drove in Ball and Chase.
   "Last night I was disappointed, but after tonight I think we're ready for it," said Overbay. "We still need to swing the bat better though, especially when we get behind in the count. We're striking out too much and swinging at bad pitches, and you can't do that in the tournament against a good pitcher."