Express, Trophies, Metal triumphant in openers

By Tim Chambers

   The Elizabethton/Carter County Jr. Babe Ruth League held opening day on Saturday, with three games being played at Elizabethton High School.
   The Expert Express Diamondbacks, David's Trophies Giants and Elizabethton Herb & Metal Reds claimed wins over the Citizens Bank Braves, Tetrick Funeral Home Marlins and the Elizabethton Elks Cubs, respectively. The Moose Yankees were idle.
   Expert Express 8
   Citizens Bank 7
   The first game of the day was a donnybrook, with the Truckers knocking off the Bankers in a tight-fisted affair. Nick McNeal delivered the game-winning blow in the last inning with a shot to the fence that scored two runs with the D-backs trailing by one.
   McNeal got the win in relief of Wendell Loving, while Justin Covington pitched a great game in defeat. McNeal was the offensive star, going 4-for-4 while Nick Papantoniou had a perfect 2-for-2 day.
   Wesley Keylon chipped in at 1-for-1, Loving batted 2-for-4 and Will Wagner went 1-for-2 to lead the 18-wheelers of Coach John Papantoniou.
   Corey Blevins, Michael Bowers, Justin Covington, Kenny Bass and Tyler Andes had the only hits for Citizens Bank.
   Coach Ronald Covington's Bankers did a great job with a very young squad and should be better upon Thomas Thorton arrival when the Unaka Rangers baseball season is completed.
   David's Trophies Giants 13
   Tetrick Funeral Home Marlins 1
   The Giants took out their frustration on the Marlins as though Jack had stolen their goose that laid the golden egg, and never let them get close to the beanstalk.
   Coach Charlie Bradford's engravers pounded out 10-hits in their win. Scott Burleson got the win, tossing a three-hitter.
   Brandon Medina led the Giants at 2-for-2 while Aaron Bradford and Matt Rasnick banged out 2-for-3 performances. Burleson, Cody Marley, Franky Birchfield and Blake Russell added one hit each to the cause.
   Jonathan Hardin had a banner day at the plate for the Marlins, going 2-for-2 with a double while Jeremy "Rollie" Sommers collected the other hit.
   Coach Delaney Scalf has a young squad, but the veteran old-school mastermind could teach a three-legged dog to steal bases with enough practice, so expect the Marlins to be much improved by mid-season.
   Elizabethton Herb & Metal Reds 8
   Elizabethton Elks Cubs 5
   The final game of the day saw the recycle men score two runs in the fifth frame to knock off the antlers in a close-knit affair. Nick Payne had a huge RBI single in the last frame to key the win.
   Daniel Simerly got the win going the distance while Jacob Thomas pitched outstanding in the Cub loss. Dylan Shallcross, Tyler Blevins and David Caldwell swung the big bats, going 2-for-3 to lead the Reds' offense.
   Simerly and Payne added a hit each while Brandon "B" Birchfield scored two runs and made a big play at shortstop. Thomas pounded the horsehide by going 3-for-3 with two RBIs while Josh Sorah was 2-for-3.
   Tim Franklin had the only other hit for the Cubs -- a triple that drove home two runs in the first.
   The Reds appear to be much-improved this season under first year coach Richard "Bob the Builder" Renfro. Renfro pounds nails like Barry Bonds crushes a baseball, taking less than eight hours to build the Jr. Babe Ruth league and high school jr. varsity a storage room.
   The Cubs have several first-year players, but look for Coach Tony Thomas to have his Cubbies ready by mid-season.