Papa John's stands alone

By Ivan Sanders

   Everyone knew from the time the first pitch was thrown out by special dignitary, Ethan Cline, that the following game was going to be one huge dogfight between the two teams that battled for the lead dog position all season long.
   In the end, the game turned out the same way as the regular season ended, with the Papa John's D-Backs taking first place in the Junior Babe Ruth Tourney championship by the score of 9-4 over the Tetrick's Yankees.
   The D-Backs wasted little time in establishing themselves as the "Big Dog" on the block by plating three runs on four hits. Kevin Jessee, Nick McNeal, Chad Lewis and Corey Nave all smacked singles in showing the way for Papa John's in the bottom of the first after Tetrick's scored one in the top of the inning without the benefit of a hit.
   Both squads were shutout in the second frame with the Yankees making some noise in the top of the third to narrow the gap. Michael Shields singled and was driven home by a roped double of the bat of Jake Berkley.
   Berkley scored easily on a single off the bat of pitcher Jordy Harrison. The game was knotted at three-all after two and a half innings of play.
   Papa John's made a little bit of noise themselves in its at-bat as Nick McNeal singled and worked his way around the basepaths to score by stealing home and edge the lead back to 4-3 in favor of the D-Backs.
   Each pitcher enjoyed the benefit of a one-two-three inning in the fourth frame, and the D-Backs defense shut down the big bats of the Yankees in the top of the fifth.
   The D-Backs stole one back from the Yankees in the bottom of the fifth frame as right fielder Al Hartman reached on a walk and promptly stole second and third. Hartman scampered home after playing a game of cat and mouse around the bag at third with the baseman and catcher.
   The Yankees came up with another score in the top of the sixth after Berkley heard church bells as the result of being hit in the head with a pitch. Tougher than nails, the young man hung tough and used his speed to steal around to third base.
   Cane Cannon then delivered as the Yankee catcher scorched a shot by the diving Papa John's shortstop to plate Berkley.
   It was not in the Yankees' picture on this night to take victory as the D-Backs roared back in the bottom of the sixth with four runs crossing the dish to all but seal up the victory.
   Ricky Garrison picked up the pitching win, with Jordy Harrison absorbing the heart-wrenching defeat.
   McNeal and Corey Nave paced the D-Backs with 2-for-3 performances on the night while Jessee, Lewis and Michael Hodge picking up one hit each.
   On the night for the Yankees, Harrison, Shields, Berkley, Cannon and Justin Conner all collected one hit each. The downfall of the night for the Yankees was the nine errors committed in the field by Tetrick's.
   The 2002 Babe Ruth season for local teams concluded for the season with the tournament final, but practice for all-star competition is getting underway full tilt, with the Elizabethton 15-year-olds getting ready to defend their back-to-back state championship seasons.
   A listing off each age division players will be made available during the weekend.