Elizabethton unable to overcome White Sox

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   BRISTOL--The Elizabethton Twins were unable to rally after falling behind early on, as the Bristol White Sox held them off by turning a double play to end the contest in a 6-4 final on Tuesday night.
   After failing to capitalize on having the bases loaded with one out in the eighth, the Twins managed just one run in the final frame to drop their second straight loss.
   "We hit it very well and swung the bat good for we hit the ball hard," said Twins manager Ray Smith. "A double-play in the middle of the game hurt us when a guy got doubled up after taking a step the wrong way, and the last hit we smoked it to the shortstop.
   "Two games and I'm not ready to commit suicide yet. I think we showed some signs of playing some pretty good baseball."
   Elizabethton found its with its back against the wall in the first, as a lead-off bunt from Evan Tartaglia and walk to shortstop Javier Castillo placed runners on first and second bases with one out.
   A ground-out from Mike Gulan and strikeout to Fransisco Hernandez by pitcher Alex Smit enabled the Twins to get out of the inning without a scratch.
   A couple of key mistakes by the Twins in the bottom of the third resulted in Bristol capturing two runs.
   A run down between first and second base slipped away from the Twins, when first-baseman David Winfree made a throw to second base that went into the outfield and allowed Gilbert Allentara to reach third.
   Jose De Los Santos stepped up to connect on a grounder to left field which drove home Allentara.
   Another costly error occurred when Smit was called for a balk on the mound, which brought in De Los Santos to give Bristol a 2-0 lead after three frames.
   Elizabethton responded to cut the lead in half when Javier Sanchez crushed a triple to deep center field to drive in Trevor Plouffe, who had reached on a line-drive double down the left-field line.
   A nice snag and throw from second-baseman Luke Hughes kept the White Sox off the board in the fourth, but the Twins were not so lucky in the bottom of the fifth with two runs scoring.
   After giving up a base hit and committing a walk, Elizabethton elected in going to the bullpen, with pitcher Steven Duguay coming in for relief of Smit.
   "I thought Smit did a pretty good job, and he got a little tired in the fifth and gave up a run or two, but I thought he did a commendable job," said Smith. "He's just an 18-year-old pup, and he had one ball go into the dirt and bounce over the catcher's head, but that shows me he's not afraid of flipping up there when we've got runners in scoring position."
   A balk from Duguay enabled the first run to score with Castillo coming home, and a rip up the middle from Brandon Allen brought in Mike Gulan to put Bristol up 4-1 after five innings of play.
   "We're going to be in the win column a lot more than we're going to be in the loss column," said White Sox manager Jerry Hairston. "These are a great group of guys and they are not afraid to hustle."
   De Los Santos knocked in his second RBI of the night with a double to deep right-center field, which drove home Tartaglia to post another run for the White Sox in the bottom of the sixth.
   Elizabethton caught a break in the top of the seventh when a throw from De Los Santos to the shortstop at second pulled the infielder off the bag, with Sanchez reaching the base safely and Johnny Woodard making it to first.
   A throw from Castillo to first went into the Bristol dugout, which enabled Sanchez to come home, but the game was briefly delayed after the White Sox manager contested whether the runner had went past second before the ball went out of play.
   "The ball was thrown in the infield, and the rule is when it goes out of play the runner gets to go to the base he's headed to and another base," said Hairston. "They're ruling was he was already at second, so he just gets third base, and if they rule it that way he was coming from first base, so he shouldn't been allowed to come around into home."
   The Twins added another run with a chopper toward second base by Landon Burt, who drove in Johnny Woodard.
   It was a squandered opportunity for Elizabethton in the top of the eighth, when Plouffe and Jeremy Pickrel both managed base hits, and a walk to Sanchez loaded the bases with one out.
   A strikeout by Woodard and ground-out from Javier Lopez eliminated the Twins' chances of closing the gap, as Bristol added another score in the bottom of the frame.
   "We had a chance though, and that's better than going three up and three down or just getting one runner on base in each inning," said Smith. "We competed well, and if we could of got a hit here or there then the score would have flip-flopped."
   After Hughes made a fielding catch on a fly in shallow right, the second-baseman elected to go to third in trying to pick off Allentara.
   The Twins already had acquired two outs, and with the throwing error it cost them a score as the next batter up grounded-out to the shortstop.
   Elizabethton had one chance left in the top of the ninth, and with a lead-off hit from Hughes down the left-field line, things were still optimistic in the Twins' dugout.
   A fielder's choice from Plouffe brought home Hughes with a runner left on first and third with just one out.
   With the winning run at the plate and tying score at first, the next hitter, Winfree, connected to almost the same spot as Plouffe did, but the White Sox infield turned the double-play and ended the game.
   "Our pitching struggled a little tonight and had a few difficulties, but that's expected", said Hairston. "We're going to score some runs and steal bases, and even hit one out of the ball park sometimes even though that's not what we're looking for. The guys know how to play and we're going to look good the whole of the season."