Cyclones rolling along in tourney

By Rebecca Pierson
STAR Staff

   The Elizabethton Cyclones are on a roll. Wednesday night they defeated West Greene with Zach Stipe pitching a perfect game.
   "It maybe the first time in Cyclone history that has happened," Elizabethton head coach Steve McKinney said.
   The big thing was I hadn't been pitching real well here lately, and I have just gotten back into things," Stipe said. "It wasn't just a perfect game for me; it was a perfect game for everybody."
   Coming off that victory, the 'Betsy team took down both University High (4-1) and David Crockett (11-8) in the Washington County Tournament on Thursday.
   University High has lost a coach due to health reasons but has regained another one. Basketball coach Tony Gordon has taken over for the team, but he isn't exactly new to baseball. He stepped in last mid-season for the Jr. Bucs and has coached high school level baseball in North Carolina.
   Understandably, the team has had quite a few adjustments to make, but they came in believing they could win the game.
   "We were down in the rotation but I thought Aaron pitched a whale of a game," he said. "I don't think he has pitched in two or three weeks. The kind of command he had and up there battling and keeping them off balance was great.
   "Just a few key defensive lapses I think turned the tide for us. Their kid did a great job out there on the mound. We just couldn't put anything together. Then that one inning we just ran ourselves out of it."
   In the first game against the Jr. Bucs, it was scoreless until the top of the third when Jr. Buc Tyler Blevins would get an RBI from Nathan Matthews with two outs.
   Elizabethton didn't awake offensively until the fifth inning. Adam Grindstaff hit it to center field for a base, then Charles Peters bunted and was caught out on first. From there UH pitcher Aaron Woodacre walked Alex Graves. Kelly Adkins then bounced one to shortstop Garrison Burton for a single.
   Then Mitchell Blevins hit a long slow drive to left field to bring Graves home. Nathen Bishop then took to the plate and was walked. Nat Treadway followed by coming to bat and pushed Adkins and Blevins home, but a fierce battle between second and third to get out Bishop included at least six throws, only for second baseman Ryan Collins to drop the ball and keep Bishop safe on second.
   'Betsy would score again in the fifth but UH could not hit off of Grindstaff, who had two perfect innings.
   "Adam is my Saturday Man," McKinney said. "I call him Saturday Man because he is undefeated on Saturday. We just told him today was Saturday, and he didn't know the difference."
   Another important performance for 'Betsy was catcher Nathan Bishop, a.k.a. Nathen Bishop. Bishop has adopted a new spelling of his name, after he realized that he simply hits better whenever his name is spelled wrong.
   The Cyclones opened up the top first inning against Crockett with one hit by Travis Bowers and one run by Treadway. They did it again in the second with two hits by Trevor Hyder and J.C Atkinson and a run by Troop Harris. They would score three more runs in the third to bring the score to 5-0.
   The Pioneers seemed to wake up in the fourth with a home run by Matt Ford to start off the inning. They would go on to tie up the score 5-5 with one hit and two errors by the 'Betsy team.
   The Cyclones weren't about to take that laying down, so they came up with five more runs of their own to get the solid lead back into their favor.
   Bishop would bounce the ball to short stop Tyler Estepp for a single. Treadway then bunted the ball but was out on first. Bowers then tagged a double, pushing Bishop home. Ricky Garrison would then hit a single, followed by Peters, who hit a double for two RBIs.
   Hyder was then walked, but a bunt by Harris opened the door for Peters, barely missed by Pioneer catcher Lance Campbell, to come home. Ryan Kennedy added a single for an RBI to tie the score back up again.
   Crockett's Ford hit another home run in the top of the fifth for that inning's lone run, and in the sixth the Pioneers would earn runs by Rob Lee and A.J. Coggins but couldn't come up with that late rally to catch up with the Cyclones.
   "We made it close there at the end," Pioneer head coach Scott Hagey said. "We didn't give up. That is all I can ask. We showed a little fight in the fourth inning. Then they came back out and scored some runs. They did what they had to do to win."
   "The kids responded well," McKinney said. "They came back and tied it. Then we came back and got five. They put it in play and they all hit it well. Our first basemen Hyder went 3-for-3. Blevins threw a real good game.
   "Then I went with Crowley and did what he always does -- throws strikes and puts the ball in play. And we played good defense behind him. It was a big win right here."
   Today the Cyclones will face Hampton at home and will return play in the Washington County Tournament at Crockett again on Saturday for the finals against the winner of the Daniel Boone pool.