Sox yank away division lead from Elizabethton

By Marvin Birchfield

   The Elizabethton Twins were headed into Saturday's double-header one and a half games up on Bristol for the top spot in the Western Division of the Appalachian League.
   After dropping two losses 6-2 and 2-0, the Twins fell a half of game behind, but it's still too early to start worrying just yet.
   "We'll just see where we're at the end of August when the dust settles. The guys are going to get hot and also get cold, but you try to maintain your consistency throughout," said Elizabethton Twins manager Ray Smith.
   In game one, the White Sox took an early lead in the top first when three consecutive hits and a walk produced two runs.
   A walk to Thomas Callaro with bases loaded brought home Freddie LeBron to score the first run.
   After Eddie Young grounded out to third, the throw to first base allowed Robert Valido to cross the plate, giving Bristol a 2-0 lead.
   Chris Young had a nice time at the plate for the White Sox by going 3-for-3, crushing a home-run shot in the bottom of the third.
   "Everybody came out here doing their job tonight, and I was just playing my game, but some days the hits come and some days they don't," said Chris Young.
   The advantage grew to 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth, when a single from Jeff Smicht drove home Scott Martin.
   Elizabethton elected to bring Lida Hiroyuki to the mound in the fifth frame, but this didn't stop Bristol's hitters from making contact with the ball.
   "It's always good to get the early lead. You're not having to play pitch for pitch, and that one little mistake is not going to hurt you," said Bristol White Sox manager Jerry Hairston.
   With two runners on base and two outs, the White Sox struck again during the fifth inning off a looping shot to center field by Eddie Young, who brought in Valido for the score.
   An fielding error on the 'Betsy third baseman increased the margin to 6-0, as Chris Young made his way across home plate.
   "Today I felt good at the plate, and most of the time when I feel good I'm usually able to get through when I hit it hard," said Chris Young.
   The Twins tried to rally in the top of the third, as they captured two runs to cut the White Sox lead to four.
   A hard hit to the left-center field wall drove in Denard Span for Elizabethton's first run on the evening.
   Ryan Spataro came to the plate to single over the second baseman's outstretched glove, which brought home Kyle Phillips.
   No luck came for the Twins though in the final attempt at bat, as they could only capture one hit, coming from Span.
   "I thought both teams played pretty good defense, but we just couldn't seem to catch a break all night," said Smith.
   Game two started much like the first one did, as the White Sox's enjoyed a 2-0 lead after the first frame.
   "Scoring two runs like that after winning the first game, I think, set the tone for us," said Hairston. "It kept the adrenaline going for us and kept it down for them after playing a tough first game."
   Jon Uhl made the start for the Twins at the mound, but Bristol still managed to get an early lead in the contest as they did in their previous encounter.
   A double down the right-field line from Perez drove in Valido and Matthew Herring.
   The hits were few and far between for Elizabethton in this contest, as it saw a scoring opportunity go away in the top of the fourth.
   "We didn't get that many hits in the second game -- I thought they pitched us well," said Smith.
   After capturing two hits to lead off the inning, runners Felix Molina and Phillips were unable to make a score when pitcher Sony Suarez retired the last two batters with strikeouts.
   "I thought we had a high energy workout before the start, but you never know what pitching there going to throw at you," said Smith. "Good pitching beats good hitting, always."
   A scary moment came for the Twins in the top of the sixth, when Span attempted to beat the throw to first, and ended up hurting his ankle while crossing the bag.
   Elizabethton went 0-for-3 at bat in both the fifth and sixth frames, forcing them to try to make another come-from-behind win that it has been accustomed to doing so far this year.
   Jesse Collins obtained a hit that made it past the third baseman in the final frame, but pitcher Fabio Castro was able to execute two consecutive strikeouts to end the game and put the White Sox at the top in the Appalachian League.
   "It's always nice to get the lead, but it's still premature to start thinking about things," said Hairston. "Elizabethton is always one of the teams to beat year after year, so I'm proud of the guys today for we went out and beat a good ball club two times."