Longhorns hook Elizabethton, 9-4

By Ivan Sanders

   The air was thick with the thought that at any moment there could be a momentum change of epic proportions, and indeed there was.
   Johnson County used a game-altering home run off the bat of Judd Townsend in the bottom of the fourth inning to stampede the Elizabethton Cyclones at Longhorn Field by the score of 9-4 on Tuesday.
   Conference seeding and playing times were on the line as the Cyclones hoped to gain a little leverage with a win. Now, unless something changes, the Cyclones will be facing number two Central on the opening day of tournament play Saturday at Hunter-Wright Stadium.
   "We came out on fire in the first inning," stated Cyclone head coach Steve McKinney. "Our bats just disappeared after the first inning, with a good effort given by Johnson County's pitcher to hold us hitless after that."
   Indeed, the Cyclones came out smoking as they plated four first-inning scores. Leadoff batter Bowers was pegged by a Reece pitch and was followed by a single off the bat of Nat Treadway.
   Justin Williams then blasted a double and catcher Jordan Bray reached on a walk. Daniel Range followed by reaching on an error.
   Designated hitter Chris Hurt then recorded a single and Joseph Taylor reached on a fielder's choice as the Cyclones took a 4-0 lead.
   The Longhorns responded with four of their own in the bottom of the frame to knot the score. Johnson County used four singles, a hit batsman and a walk to rally even with the Cyclones.
   Neither team's run output changed until the fourth inning, when the Longhorns were at it again. Joe Atwood reached on a fielder's choice and was advanced to second on a Jeff Lewis single.
   From there the gates were opened as Townsend stepped to the plate and crushed one over the left-field fence for a hefty 7-4 'Horn advantage.
   Meanwhile, EHS lost all the steam it had in the first with no other Cyclone picking up a hit the remainder of the contest. Reece kept the Cyclones off balance with a good fastball and a mean curve over the outside corners.
   Johnson County added some insurance in the bottom of the sixth after Michael Reid was hit by a Travis Bowers offering. Reid advanced with a stolen base to second.
   Atwood then reached as the ball was bobbled by the Cyclone second baseman to place runners at the corners. Atwood broke for second as Bowers had him picked off when a run down ensued.
   Reid raced for home and made it with ease to edge the lead to 9-4, which was the final outcome of the contest.
   Bowers, even though credited with the loss, had a good day on the hill as the hurler racked up six strikeouts on the day.
   Reece relied on good defensive play from the interior of the infield as the Longhorns turned two double plays on the day to back the good pitching performance.
   The Cyclones wrap up regular season play today with a make-up game against the Chuckey-Doak Black Knights at 5 p.m.