Cyclones drop regular-season finale

By Ivan Sanders

   It was a night that will remain as a memory in the minds of a select group of young men wearing the orange and black, even though it was a bittersweet one.
   Chuckey-Doak came Wednesday to pay a visit to the Elizabethton Cyclones at Joe O'Brien Field in the last regular season home game for a group of senior players, and closed the door on the Cyclones with a 9-4 victory.
   "Our kids came out and played like a tired bunch of ballplayers tonight," said Cyclone assistant coach Mike Hooks. "We got down early and had to battle our way back into the game, an area where we haven't been too successful this year."
   Jesse Randolph roped a double to lead off the contest and scored as Seth Lady reached on an error. Aaron Cremins singled and A.J. Bales stroked a Zack Stipe pitch out of the confines of Joe O'Brien Field for a three-run homer.
   The Cyclones only received a walk issued to Travis Bowers and a single from Nat Treadway in their portion of the first inning. After one, the Knights held a 4-0 lead.
   Stipe found the groove on the first two Knight batters in the second to record a fly out and a strikeout before Cremins reached on a single.
   Bales then crushed a double to put C-D back in business before Stipe reached back for a little extra to ring Jason Johnson up on a strikeout.
   EHS loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame as Joseph Taylor and Travis Bowers garnered walks and Jeremy Hodge laced a single. Black Knight pitcher Devon Winters then was able to get Treadway to fly out to end the threat.
   The Cyclones defense stiffened in the second as Stipe was able to entice all three Chuckey-Doak batters to hit the ball in the air and let his fielders reel the Knights in for a three up and three down frame.
   'Betsy cracked the eggs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning as Chris Hurt reached on a drop third strike and stole second.
   Senior Daniel Range then stroked a single and stole second. Hurt took home on the bad throw to second in an effort to nab Range and the Cyclones now trailed 4-1.
   Michael Porter kept the rally going with a single, and Range scored on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by freshman catcher Nathan Bishop.
   The Knights didn't take too kindly to the runs scored by the Cyclones as they made up for them in the top of the fourth. C-D used two walks, a single, and two fielder's choices to reclaim the two runs scored by EHS in the inning.
   Elizabethton had a short rest as Bowers crunched a single and Justin Williams was pegged to highlight the frame for the Cyclones with Winters once again reigning supreme for the Knights.
   Jordan Kimery led of the Knight fifth with a single and Brent Ricker walked to provide the only offense C-D could manage off Stipe in the inning as the sophomore finally hit his stride.
   EHS just couldn't capitalize on their good fortune in the bottom of the fifth. Bishop did pick up a single and Taylor worked the pitcher for a free pass, but that was the extent of the offense.
   The Black Knights added two more insurance runs in the sixth on a single by Lady, an intentional free pass to Bales and a base-clearing double by Johnson. The Knights now were in a comfortable position with an 8-2 advantage.
   It was a vintage sixth inning for the Cyclones as they only were able to catch a quick breeze and drink of cold water before returning to the diamond after a one-two-three frame worked by relief pitcher Micheal King.
   Chuckey-Doak felt like they needed one more run for just for safety's sake and picked it up in their last at-bat. Two walks and two singles with a fielder's choice thrown into the mix spelled another tally for the Knights.
   Elizabethton decided they had one more rally in them in their last at-bat. Hurt drew a walk as did Range.
   Porter notched his second hit in four tries to load the bases for the Cyclones. After a Bishop pop up, Taylor earned a free pass to score Hurt.
   Hodge then hit into a fielder's choice that no out could be recorded out on, but was enough to allow Range to cross the dish. Bowers brought the game to a close as he hit into a 1-2-3 twin killing.
   "To tell you the truth, we were a little lackadaisical tonight," said Black Knight mentor Tim Lady. "We had two kids sitting the bench as a result of suspensions, but we played good enough to win for the 15 time out of the last 16 games."
   Even in defeat the Cyclones had nothing to hang their heads about as they made the plays ball clubs have to make to win, and then actually stepped the defense up a notch or two by making no less than five spectacular plays in the field.
   Bishop had an extremely good game for a freshman player, with two excellent tags on runners trying to advance to home on great throws from the Cyclone outfielders and a hustling pop fly catch from behind the plate. Also, two catches were made by Treadway and Porter that looked to be trouble.
   There was one thing that Cyclone mentor Steve McKinney wanted to make clear.
   "I am not going to bring freshman up to win ballgames at the varsity level," he said. "The older players are the ones that need to step up and deliver."
   Regardless of the outcome, Lady had one thing to say about the Cyclones.
   "They are a much improved team than they were when we beat them 17-0 at our place," stated Lady.
   One season is over and another begins Saturday as the Cyclones travel to Hunter-Wright Stadium in Kingsport to take on Sullivan Central in the District 1-AA tournament. Game time is still up in the air due to graduation, but is tentatively slated for 6 p.m.