Cyclones stun Black Knights

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   The "Black Attack" was ready to pull into the station, but needed "Old Faithful" to come through in the clutch if it was to get to the Region 1-AA baseball finals. There was nothing to fear as 'The Bus' revved his engines and turned the Knights' lights out.
   Behind the bullish pitching of starter Travis Bowers and the fantastic relief work of Wes "The Bus" Greer, the Elizabethton Cyclones continued an amazing run in the postseason by defeating a solid Chuckey-Doak team (26-10) to the tune of 9-7.
   "Elizabethton definitely caught us off guard with their hitting tonight," stated a stunned Black Knight coach Tim Lady. "They got the big lead and we got down, then we came back but just couldn't get the big hit."
   EHS got off to a rousing start as B.J. Miller drew a leadoff walk. Bowers helped his cause by singling to advance Miller to third. Justin Williams hit a shot to the shortstop that allowed Miller to score, but turned into a 6-4-3 double play.
   Doak wasted little time responding by evening the score in the bottom of the frame. Jarrod Waycaster blasted a double and took third on a wild pitch. Seth Lady drove Waycaster in with a groundout to short to knot the score at 1-1 after one.
   Elizabethton regained the lead in the top of the second as junior right fielder Michael Porter simple crushed a A.J. Bales pitch that the Knights left fielder admired crashing into a building located on the outside of the park for a 2-1 Cyclone advantage.
   Bowers knocked the Knights off their steeds in the bottom portion of the inning as the sophomore hurler recorded a three-up and three-down frame.
   "Travis is a competitor who will keep you in a ballgame," stated Cyclone head coach Steve McKinney. "He threw the pitches he needed to for us to have a chance at this game."
   The Cyclones added two more in the top of the third by way of three hits and a fielder's choice. Miller and Bowers singled after one out in the inning. Williams drew a walk to load the bases and Chris Hurt hit a fielder's choice that plated Miller.
   Senior Daniel Range then stroked a RBI single to score Bowers. After two and a half complete the Cyclones held tightly to a 4-1 edge.
   Bowers once again sailed through the Knights in bottom of the third allowing only one hit to Aaron Cremins. The defense of EHS, which has played superbly as of late, backed Bowers with some outstanding plays, including Williams making a stabbing dive at a ball, that appeared headed for left field, to get the force at second.
   Jason Johnson of Chuckey-Doak brought the home crowd to its feet in the fourth with a deep drive out of Knight Field, slicing the 'Clones lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning to put a little life in the Knights.
   Elizabethton knew runs were needed and lots of them to survive a Doak team that thrives on the long ball at home, and the Cyclones put a five spot on the board in the fifth.
   Bowers got into the roundtripper action as he promptly placed a Jesse Randolph pitch into the cheap seats in left center field. Williams followed the smash up by thumping a double to bring the fire to the Cyclone dugout.
   Hurt laid a perfect sacrifice bunt and Range picked up his second hit and second RBI of the contest to push the lead to 6-2. Porter reached on an error and Jordan Bray notched a single to load the base path once again.
   Joseph Taylor and Miller picked up RBIs on bases-loaded walks and Bowers continued with a torrid bat, ripping a single for another RBI.
   It was a good thing for the 'Clones because the Knights put together a rally of their own in the bottom of the inning. Chuckey-Doak crushed two homers and used some untimely errors by the middle of the Cyclone infield to allow the lead to be chopped to 9-7 after five complete.
   The sixth was quiet for both sides to set up an intense seventh-and-final frame.
   Elizabethton went quickly and quietly in their at-bat. It was now time for the defense to bow its back and shut the Knights down.
   Matt King singled and Timmy Thompson walked to put the Cyclones in pickle with one out in the inning. Greer sent Randolph to the pine with a 'K' and the intensity level hitting a feverish pitch.
   Waycaster was the only Knight to stand between the Cyclones and a trip to a regional final game. Greer almost seemed to whistle the ball to come back to him as he fielded a little tapper off the bat of Waycaster for the final out of the game and a time of celebration for the Cyclones.
   "They embarrassed us twice this season and we wanted to win this one bad," stated Greer after the game. "I just wanted to come in and throw low strikes and get them to hit it on the ground so my defense could play behind me."
   Said McKinney: "Our confidence level is gaining momentum and right now it doesn't matter who we play tomorrow. I really don't care either because the 'Black Attack' will be playing somewhere and that's what really matters."
   The Cyclones will take on a familiar face in Unicoi County tonight in the regional finals at Devil Diamond in Unicoi County. Game time was uncertain at press time.