K-Mets rally sink Elizabethton

By Allen LaMountain

   KINGSPORT -- With only the Bristol Sox keeping the Elizabethton Twins out of the Appalachian League's West Division cellar, the Twins are probably saying to themselves "Thank God for Bristol."
   If the Twins keep playing the way they have of late however, by the time Bristol comes to town on Sunday night, the Sox may well be saying "Thank God for Elizabethton."
   On Thursday night at Hunter-Wright Stadium the Kingsport Mets rallied for two runs in the seventh inning and held on for a 3-2 win that dropped the Twins to 3-7 on the season. Kingsport now stands 4-6.
   The Twins didn't play badly on this night, but they also didn't play well enough to win, as they dropped their second in a row and their fifth in the last six outings.
   Twice the Twins fell inches short of home runs, and twice they left a runner in scoring position that would have tied or won the contest. That is simply the way the Twins' season has gone so far.
   "I'd rather lose this way than the way we did the other night," commented Twins pitching coach Jim Shellenback. "Tonight, the Mets won it, we didn't give it away with walks and errors. This is one of those nights where you just have to tip your hat to the other guy."
   Reliever T.J. Prunty saw his record fall to 0-2 as he became the pitcher of record when he surrendered both Kingsport runs in the seventh to absorb the loss.
   Prunty was in his second inning of relief when Aaron Baldiris dropped a Texas League blooper to right with one away in the stanza.
   Brandon Wilson drew a walk before back-to-back bloops to right by Yunir Garcia and Luis Martinez drove in the tying and go-ahead runs for the K-Mets.
   "He threw (Martinez) a fastball at 0 and two," said Shellenback. "It might not have been his best one, but it was a fastball. The guy got a late swing on it, and it fell in."
   Twins starter Ricky Barrett pitched his five innings well, surrendering one run on four hits while striking out five and walking one.
   Barrett got no decision in this, his second start of the season.
   The K-Mets got the early lead in the second frame on consecutive singles by Balderis, Wilson and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Garcia.
   Baldiris, Wilson and Garcia combined for six hits in seven at-bats and scored all of Kingsport's runs on the night, while driving in two of those.
   "Garcia gives us good at-bats every time out there," said K-Mets manager Joey Cora. "We pitched well tonight and along with playing aggressively got us a win. It's still early in the season, we haven't done anything yet. There is still a long way to go."
   The Twins battled back to tie the game in the third, taking advantage of a Met error to score a run without benefit of a hit. Scott Whitrock walked to open the frame and advanced to third when Felix Molina's chopper was thrown into centerfield by Kingsport third baseman Balderis that put runners on the corners for Betsy.
   Sam Taylor's grounder to second plated Whitrock, but the Twins could do no further damage in the frame and the score was knotted at 1-1.
   'Betsy grabbed a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth when Daniel Marin got hold of a Taylor George fastball, and put it over the leftfield fence, right at the 370-foot sign.
   In Marin's first at-bat, Mets leftfielder Jamar Hill caught the ball with his back to the fence as Marin narrowly missed a homer, but his second time up Marin knew just what to look for from George.
   "I waited on his fastball," said Marin. "I was looking for it in that situation. He threw me one in the same spot my first time up, and I almost got it."
   In the sixth - with 'Betsy leading 2-1 - Garrett Guzman drove his fifth double of the season to left with one gone in the frame. Dusty Gomon then drove a ball to left that Hill leaped for at the fence, robbing Gomon of a possible homer, and halting the last potential Twins scoring opportunity of the night.
   The seventh and eighth saw the Twins go down in order against Mets reliever Adam Elliott and Jayson Weir, who collected his second save of the season.
   Gomon singled in the ninth off Weir but was erased on a double-play ball off the bat of pinch hitter Cory Agar that ended the contest.
   E-Twins notes: Barrett pitched well and saw his ERA fall to 2.19 in eight and two-thirds innings of work. Guzman, while struggling with a .256 average, has a league-leading five two-baggers among his 10 hits on the season, and Gomon rapped his 14th hit of the season to keep himself near the top of the league in that category.