Motors zooms to championship   

By Marvin Birchfield
star staff

  It was Carter County Motors making a successful bid for the championship in the Elizabethton National League tournament, as it dealt Tri-Cities Nissan a 10-0 loss in the final game of the season on Friday night at T.J. Burleson Field.
  After Tri-Cities Nissan battled its way to a 6-3 win on Thursday with a strong showing on the mound by Ethan Fleenor, thus forcing an extra game, Carter County Motors came back to capture an impressive victory in the later innings of the contest.
  Carter County jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after the first frame, when a grounder to second-base from Cody Hyder drove home Stacey Sheffield.
  "We got started off on the right foot, and these boys didn't quit on us. They haven't quit on us all year and kept it up," said Carter County Motors coach Richard Sheffield. "They did what they have all year in trying to win every inning, and I'm proud of them. Tri-Cities Nissan gave them a good game and all they wanted."
  Jake Hodge came up to smack a double to right field and eventually scored after Seth Fleenor nailed a triple to left center, which brought him home.
  Caleb Sheets led off for Tri-Cities Nissan in the top of the second with a single, but the Carter County defense stepped up to turn a double-play on the next hitter, as trouble in finding a gap plagued Tri-Cities all game long.
  Tri-Cities eluded any damage in the top of the second when bases were loaded with three straight walks. A throw from short-stop Ethan Fleenor to C.J. Bowling on a fielder's choice kept a run from crossing.
  Drew Clark came back after committing the walks at the mound to throw two strikeouts, which kept Carter County from adding to their score.
  "We really didn't have an ace. We threw our number one pitcher last night and the catcher is our number two, so we threw a kid out there that's only had five or six innings under his belt all year long," said Tri-Cities Nissan coach Dale Bowling. "It was tough, but he did a good job out there battling."
  It appeared that Tri-Cities might be able to capture a score in the top of the third as Bowling smacked a double to left field with one out.
  Hodge was solid from the mound for Cater County, though, as he retired the last two hitters with strike-outs.
  "We hit into some tough luck actually. We hit the ball hard in some innings but it was right at some people," said Bowling. "It's a good team over there, they've only lost four games all year. "We battled back through the losers' bracket, and nobody expected them to be here, so I'm proud of them. I think it was a good year -- all the kids played well."
  Carter Co. Motors stretched its lead in the bottom of the fourth when Hodge crushed a double to the left-field fence, as he finished three for three from the plate with all hits being doubles.
  "These boys played a real good game, and Jake Hodge pitched an awesome game and hit the ball really well, and I'm proud of him," said Sheffield. "These boys backed him up. I don't think we made an error all night and were able to turn a double-play around the third inning."
  Seth Fleenor followed with a single to right field. which brought in Hodge, and a fielder's choice by Nick Kyte drove home Fleenor.
  During the fifth frame things fell apart for Tri-Cities, while everything seemed to go Carter County's way.
  Three errors to start the inning produced three runs for Carter County, as Tri-Cities was turning the routine plays into mistakes.
  A ball that went under the glove of the third-baseman brought home the first run, with Tyler Burleson crossing the plate.
  Two more runs scored when a drop at first base allowed Bryan Mullins to come home, and then a throw from the catcher to the second base, which went into the outfield, enabled Stacey Sheffield to cross the plate.
  Cody Hyder followed with a single to left field, which drove in another run, with Casey Sheffield making his way home.
  As he had done all game long, Hodge stepped up once again to smack a double, which bounced across the left-center field fence to bring home Hyder.
  A game-ending hit came from Cody Anderson, who nailed a double to left field to bring in Hodge and secure the win and the championship for Carter County Motors.
  "If Goliath had known who stood in the valley, then they would all stayed at home that day," said Carter County Motors assistant coach Phil "Mouse" Vines.