Cardinals hold back Twins

By Wes Holtsclaw

   Kyle McClellan battled through his share of obstacles Monday night.
   After falling behind to the Elizabethton Twins, the Johnson City Cardinal pitcher fought his way through eight innings with a pair of homers from Andy Shutzenhofer and Andrew Davie to oust the 'Betsy Bombers in a close 4-3 dogfight at Joe O'Brien Field.
   Elizabethton (13-6) led twice in their 2,000th contest in franchise history, but simply couldn't battle back in the latter innings when the squad needed hits.
   "It was a well-played game early, but we couldn't string any hits," said Twins skipper Ray Smith. "With the history of our club this season, we thought we could handle it with our pitching. But their left hitters hung in there and hit some hard shots off our left-handed pitchers."
   "We tried to battle back, but we couldn't get anything at the right time," he said. "We've been fortunate to have the pitching save us a lot of times, but their lefties put some swings on us."
   The Twins opened with hits from J.R. Taylor and Jason Pospishill early, but finally got going in the fourth inning.
   Singles from Jesse Collins and Ron Perodin set up a huge two-run double from Brock Peterson, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.
   The Red Birds fought around Twins starter Angel Garcia, but the speedy pitcher hit Daric Barton, then Andy Schutzenhofer put a fastball over the right-field wall to tie the game at 2-2.
   Elizabethton bounced right back when Sam Taylor got his first homer of the season, behind on a count with two outs. It only served as fuel to Johnson City's fire.
   The Cardinals got two quick outs before Andrew Davie lit up Twin reliever Ryan Hader with a solo shot over the center-field wall. Two walks set up Schutzenhofer, who singled across Sal Friscella to put Johnson City in a 4-3 lead.
   McClellan kept Elizabethton in check during his longest outing of the year, shutting the Twins out in his final three innings.
   Former Nebraska Cornhusker Jason Burch followed McClellan with his league-leading seventh save of the season, after a pair of strikeouts, to seal the win.
   Serving as the top man in the Cardinal rotation, McClellan earned his third victory of the season.
   "It felt good out there tonight," McClellan said. "It felt like I had my control the whole game and it didn't let up as much."
   "We've been pretty consistent," he said. "Our team can put it together in big games. We've just let some slip from us. Elizabethton is a good team and it shows what we've been capable of all season in big games."
   Schutzenhofer led the Cards with a 3-for-3 outing, while Davie provided a pair of clutch hits. Taylor led Elizabethton with his 2-for-4 game.
   "The game was upsetting," Taylor said. "We had a cool pace at first -- the double from Brock got us going and we woke up a bit. It came out of our hands in the seventh and we couldn't do anything about that. It happens in baseball."
   Elizabethton had solid attendance last night during Chamber of Commerce Night, where fans received free admission at the gate. Close to 1,000 attended the historic 2,000th game in franchise history.
   The Twins travel to Johnson City (10-11) for a game tonight, before returning home for a trio against Pulaski.