Twins turn back CCB, putting lid on championship season

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   The Elizabethton Twins had a superb year this season. Not only did they win the regular-season Elizabethton National Little League title, but they were also the champions in the league tournament with a 5-0 victory over Carter County Bank Friday night.
   "One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to win all three titles, and we won the regular season, the city tournament, and now the post-season tournament, so I'm really proud of these guys," said Elizabethton Twins manager Bill McKinney.
   The Twins were just one game away from being crowned on Friday, and after a productive third inning they were not to be denied as the champs.
   "We broke it loose in that one inning to hit the ball and that really helped," McKinney. "We had some guys that swung the bat pretty well."
   Both teams played a great defensive game, as neither had many opportunities to score runs.
   The Twins decided to bring Lance Reed to the mound in the second frame, after giving the start to Caleb Durant.
   This proved to be a wise decision, as Reed allowed no runs and just two hits while striking out 13.
   "I knew we had to use an 11-year-old in the first inning, and we had only used two all year long," said McKinney. "We got through the first inning with him not giving up any runs, and then we brought in Lance Reed for the last five, which really helped."
   In the top of the third, the Twins took advantage of the break they were looking for.
   With two outs, Benjamin McKinney hit a grounder to the shortstop for the routine throw at first base.
   A bad toss sailed by the first baseman, which allowed Clayton Ray and Reed to come home.
   "Nobody thought we would be here and we played some pretty good ball scoring when we had to getting here, and it should have been a 0-0 game heading into extra innings, but that's how it goes sometimes," said Carter County Bank manager David Mann.
   The Twins kept the momentum rolling with a double to left field from Craig Sheets, driving home Benjamin McKinney and Zack Montgomery.
   An infield single by Phillip White produced the last run of the inning, as Sheets came across the plate to make it 5-0 in favor of the Twins.
   Austin Johnson continued to get the call from the mound for the entire game, as he enabled Carter County Bank to keep the contest close by not giving up too many hits or committing a lot of walks.
   "We had a 9-year-old pitcher on the mound who threw his heart out, and I know he really wanted to win this game for his dad, who is in Germany right now," said Mann.
   The Twins didn't have much opportunity of capturing a run after the third inning, with the Carter County Bank defense continued to make the plays needed.
   The same was said for Carter Co. Bank, as a double from Isaiah Osborne in the bottom of the fourth was all the only hit they made heading into the final frame.
   "Our bats didn't come alive for us tonight like I had hoped, and we had a couple of good hits to score a run or two, but I knew when we got down 5-0 it was going to be difficult," said Mann.
   Reed connected on seven straight strikeouts toward the end of the contest to secure the victory.
   "This has been a very competitive league and I just want to give credit to the coaches," Bill McKinney said. "You had to come to play every game because any team could beat the other on a given night."
   Burgie Drug 7
   6-Sigma Automation 3
   After battling their way in the tournament and having to settle for the third-place consolation game, Burgie Drug captured the win over 6-Sigma Automation.
   "We had a good win. We had to bounce back from a loss prior to tonight, and everybody hit the ball well to put it in play," said Burgie Drug manager Adam Copeland.
   Burgie was able to grab the early lead in the first two frame, when a double from Matt Febuary produced the first runs, with Casey Crapps and Jordan Meredith scoring.
   A shot from Austin Herron drove in the last run of the first, with Aaron Vaughn crossing the plate to give Burgie Drug a 4-0 lead.
   The lead increased in the second frame with a double from Meredith that brought in Sean Bentley, Crapps and Drew Chambers.
   Burgie held a 7-0 advantage until the fifth frame, when a hit by Eric Norman drove home D.J. Reece and Jake Howell.
   "We played better toward the end of the season and that's what you want to strive for -- to improve," said 6-Sigma Automation manager Kenny Hardin. "So I'm just real proud of all the boys."
   The last score of the contest was by Norman when a walk to Ethan McKinney with bases loaded brought the run to the plate.
   "I don't think we were quite ready to start the game, and we took too many pitches without swinging at the ball, so I think that really hurt us," said Hardin.
   Burgie Drug elected to bring Zack Miller to the mound in the final frame to replace Meredith, as he kept 6-Sigma from making a run with two strikeouts to the last three batters he faced.
   "Jordan Meredith had a real good game. He threw up until the last inning and converted five or six strikeouts for us, then Zack Miller came in and helped close it out for us," said Copeland.
   Thursday
   Twins 8
   Burgie Drug 1
   Benjamin McKinney homered, and struck out 10 batters over five innings while leading the Twins to a convincing win against Burgie.
   McKinney finished with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate, including a double, and pitched the win.
   Skylar Dugger retired the final three Burgie batters for the Twins, and added a 1-for-3, 2-RBI effort offensively.
   Zack Montgomery and Craig Sheets both went 2-for-2 for the Twins, who grabbed a 4-0 first-inning lead.
   Burgie totaled two hits on the night, getting one each from Drew Chambers and Luke Martinez.