Cyclones claim another upset victim

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   KINGSPORT -- The weather forecast at Hunter-Wright Stadium was unique on Monday night. First, there was a frigid chill as the "Snowman" took the hill, and then there was such a powerful display of sheer force. Everyone knew it had to be a F-5 Cyclone passing through.
   Behind the spine chilling pitching of Travis Bowers and the brut force of the Cyclone offense, Elizabethton racked up its second upset in three days by handing No. 3 seeded Sullivan North a 11-8 setback in the 1-AA District Baseball Tournament.
   "I am going to bring my good-luck charm again tomorrow," stated an elated Cyclone head coach Steve McKinney in reference to his daughter. "This team's confidence level right now is tripled to what is was during the season."
   Elizabethton came out on fire in the top of the first. Leadoff man B.J. Miller scorched a double over the head of the Raider right fielder, then Bowers helped his cause by ripping an RBI single to plate Miller.
   Justin Williams reached pitcher Trey Mosley for another single followed by a Daniel Range walk to load the bases for the Cyclones. Michael Porter lofted a sacrifice fly to allow courtesy runner Adam Greenlee to score on a tag up at third.
   Jordan Bray finished the scoring off in the inning as the young catcher stroked an RBI single to give the Cyclones an early 3-0 advantage.
   North responded with one of its own in the bottom of the inning as Alex Bolling worked Bowers for a walk. Josh Jenkins wasted little time in bringing in Bolling as he delivered an RBI double to right center.
   Bowers then settled to retire the side, and at the end of one complete the Cyclones maintained a 3-1 lead.
   The Cyclones gradually turned it up another notch in their portion of the second. Jeremy Hodge reached Mosley for a walk to lead off the inning.
   Miller picked up his second hit in as many innings. Williams followed suit with his second base knock to score Miller, and designated hitter Chris Hurt kept the hit chain alive with a single as well.
   Range notched an RBI on a sacrifice fly, scoring Williams. Porter picked up his second RBI of the contest as he took a Mosley pitch for a single allowing Hurt to cross the dish for a 7-1 Cyclone lead.
   "It's just so totally amazing how we have come together as a team for this tournament," stated Porter. "The guys stay up in the dugout and I know I just want to do what ever it takes to help this team win."
   Each pitcher settled in over their next two innings of work as Bowers didn't allow a hit and Chuck Odom, who had replaced Mosley, kept the Cyclones in check as well.
   The Raiders managed to add one to their column in the bottom off the fourth after Jon Yates doubled and scored on an error charged to first baseman Joseph Taylor, who had made a good tag on the runner only to have the ball dislodged from his glove on the tag.
   Odom once again did a good job of keeping the Cyclones from adding any insurance in the fifth, giving up only a single to Taylor before getting out of the inning as pinch runner Tyler Shaw was caught stealing.
   North knew the time was closing in on them, so it needed to respond in a big way in the bottom of the inning -- and did.
   Using four hits and an error the Golden Raiders plated three in the frame. The big hit for the Raiders came off the stick of Jenkins, recording a double for his second hit.
   EHS, playing like a different club in the tournament, responded back with four runs in the top of the sixth off three hits.
   Miller walked and Bowers executed a perfect hit and run. Williams reached on a bobbled sacrifice bunt to Odom to load the base path for Hurt, who responded by hitting a chalk-line single down the first base line to knock in both Miller and Bowers.
   Range then sent a screamer to center field, allowing Williams and pinch runner Jake Berkley to score for two RBIs. Range was nailed as he tried to stretch a triple out of a double. After five and a half innings, the Cyclones led the Golden Raiders 11-5.
   The never-say-die Raiders found a little more charge as they came back with a three spot in the bottom of the sixth inning. North used two hits and an error to lose the gap back to three at 11-8.
   Jenkins was the culprit again as the hard-hitting Raider smashed a triple to the gap between Range and Hodge to knock in two runs.
   Elizabethton could have used another insurance run, but Odom was ready for the task at hand and set the Cyclones down in order in the top of the seventh.
   After getting into a little trouble late in the bottom of the inning, McKinney called upon Wes "Bus" Greer to pick up the last three outs in the frame. Greer tickled the chin of Brandon Summey for a strikeout for out number one in the inning.
   Greer then coaxed Bolling into a fielder's choice to eliminate Matt Ball. With two outs and the tying run at the plate in the form of Mr. Jenkins, who had already accounted for five RBIs, Greer realized that his team was one out away from a victory and counting on him.
   In the hole with two strikes, Jenkins grounded out to bring mass pandemonium from the Cyclone dugout to celebrate the huge win.
   "These guys have finally realized that if they play hard and believe, they can do anything," said McKinney. "Anything can happen from this point because we're 2-0 now and have proved to ourselves we're capable of beating anybody."
   The Cyclones now get another shot at top-seeded Unicoi County at Hunter-Wright Stadium on Tuesday night at 7. All those true Black and Orange fans are encouraged to come and get behind their team because with a win, the Cyclones are automatically qualified for regional play for the first time since the late '80s.