Twins complete sweep of D-Rays

By Allen LaMountain

ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
alamountain@starhq.com

   With the fireworks of Sunday's suspended ballgame behind them, the Elizabethton Twins set off a whole new set of fireworks on Monday as they touched a combined eight Princeton hurlers for 20 runs on 20 hits in a sweep of the Devil Rays at Joe O'Brien Field by 11-1 and 9-4 tallies.
   The Twins started the fireworks display on Sunday night, just before a pair of electric transformers blew up and forced the suspension of play, as 'Betsy parlayed a five-run second frame and a six-run third frame into an easy 11-1 victory.
   Lefty Justin Keeling (1-1, 8.82) got his first win of the season and got a bit of redemption after getting shelled in a relief role early in the homestand.
   "I was just glad to get back out there and have a chance to redeem myself," said Keeling, who had pitched well this season, but was hit hard in his last outing. "I felt like the sooner the better for me to get back on the mound. That's the good thing about having coaches like we have here. They realize that for your confidence you have to get back out there and pitch. I think that I will be better for it."
   'Betsy took advantage of the youthfulness of the Princeton hurlers, plus a shaky defense that had four errors in the contest, in winning their second straight game over the Rays.
   Trent Oeltjen was 2-for-3 in the opener with two RBI and a two-base knock, while Garret Guzman and Inocencio "Sandy" Hiraldo each drove in a pair of runs as well.
   In the seventh frame, the Rays strung together three two-out base knocks off Twins reliever Isaac Streich to avert a shutout.
   "Things are starting to fall into place for us now," said Oeltjen, who finished the day 4-for-7 at the dish with a home run and four ribbies to raise his average to .352 as he continues to set the table for the Twin offense.
   "The way Dusty (Gomon) has been hitting and driving in runs, I just try to get on base somehow. But really, everyone is contributing a lot. I'm a lot more relaxed at the plate, and it helps that I'm in the lineup every day to keep it going."
   Game Two
   Twins 9
   Devil Rays 4
   In the nightcap, catcher Danny Matienzo's three-run homer keyed an 11-hit 'Betsy attack as starter T.J. Prunty ran his record to 2-3 with five solid frames of mound work.
   Prunty had an up and down performance, surrendering four runs on nine scattered hits, but was solid when he had to be.
   "Sometimes he loses his focus and gets a bit lazy in his mechanics," said Matienzo, who was Prunty's college teammate. "But when he has his good curveball working I feel like he is unhittable. He just needs to learn to stay focused out there."
   Prunty fanned three and didn't walk a batter.
   Matienzo's second blast of the season followed a free pass to Gomon and a single by Doug Deeds, and gave 'Betsy a quick three-run lead.
   "To tell the truth I was looking off-speed," said Matienzo of his towering shot to right. "On a 2-2 pitch, the pitcher will usually go with his strength, which in (Sanchez) case is a changeup. But I spotted the fastball and got a good swing on it."
   But the Twins weren't through with Devil Ray starter Juan Sanchez yet as one-out and one walk later Oeltjen hammered a shot over the right-field fence to make it a 5-0 'Betsy lead.
   Sanchez lasted just three innings for Princeton, giving up six runs on six hits, while striking out three and issuing two free passes.
   "A lot of these guys were pitching in high school a few months ago," said Devil Rays skipper Edwin Rodriguez, who saw his staff lit up for 24 runs in the three-game set and his team's losing streak reach five games. "We don't have a Florida league for these guys to go to, or extended spring training. They come here and are thrown right into the fire. I think that it helps them, if they don't lose their confidence. That's my job, to make sure that they don't."
   Princeton strung together four straight singles with two away in the top of the first to plate a pair of runs and take a 2-to-0 lead.
   Josh Arhart and Gabe Martinez had RBI singles for the Rays and second baseman Elliott Johnson had a solo home run in the third.
   Scott Whitrock had an RBI triple in the 'Betsy third and the Twins scored a pair of runs in the fourth on a double by Felix Molina, an infield single by Guzman, and a throwing error by Rays shortstop Salvador Parades.
   Matienzo also added an RBI double in the fifth to give him a four-RBI day.