Cards survive Twins

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY--The Elizabethton Twins dropped their second consecutive loss to Johnson City on Tuesday, as the Cardinals win a 8-7 decision at Cardinal Park.
   After the Twins tied the contest with a three-run homer from Kyle Phillips in the seventh, the Cardinals came back to add a run in the bottom of the eighth to score the victory.
   "That was a fun game to watch our club battle back and not cash it in after falling behind 6-0, so I was happy to see that," said Elizabethton Twins manager Ray Smith.
   Johnson City took the early advantage in the first inning, when Tanner Wooten smacked a double to bring home Tee Thomas.
   In the bottom of the fourth, the Cardinals increased their lead to 6-0, after Johnson City captured six hit to drive in five runs.
   A shot up the middle by Kevin House score the first run, as Sal Frisella came home after getting on base with a double.
   Luis Colina drove in the next run when an infield hit and throwing error from the pitcher allowed House to cross home plate.
   The hits continued to come for Johnson City, as it strung together five in a row.
   A grounder to center field from Thomas brought home Colina, and then a two-run homer to right field by Wooten gave the Cardinals a six-run advantage.
   The Twins bounced back in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit in half, when four hits scored three runs.
   "We had a chance. We played nine strong innings and quality at bats up there hitting," said Smith. "If you have the quality of defense and are throwing strikes, then you have a chance to come back no matter what the score is early in the game."
   Ryan Spataro ripped a hit up the center to bring home Brock Peterson and J.R. Taylor, after the two runners led off the inning with a couple of singles.
   A double to left field from Felix Molina brought Spataro to the plate, giving the Twins a much-needed boost in getting themselves back into the game.
   In the bottom of the fifth, the Cardinals struck again to stretch their advantage to four runs, as a grounder to left field from Colina brought in Andrew Davie.
   With the Twins' leading home-run hitter coming to the plate to start the sixth frame, he nailed a shot over the left-field wall, bringing Elizabethton back to within three runs.
   The Twins made a rally in the seventh frame, as a fielder's choice by Spataro, and a double to left field from Molina put runner at second and third bases.
   Phillips followed up to hit his second home run on the season, which tied the contest as the three-run shot sailed over the right-field wall.
   "No lead is safe with these guys -- they hit the ball real well," said Johnson City Cardinals manager Ron Warner. "Phillips got the three-run homer, and I thought, 'well, we're in a real battle now,' but I knew those guys were not going to give up until the last bat."
   After capturing two hits and receiving a walk to load the bases, the Cardinals elected to use pinch-hitter Marcos Rodriguez in place of the center fielder House.
   Rodriguez smacked a hard shot to the pitcher, which bounced over the mound and drove in Levi Weber.
   The Twins were unsuccessful in matching the run in the final inning, as Goman was the only hitter to reach base, off an error.
   "We've got a team that doesn't give up and they have one that doesn't either, so when you get two teams together like that, then you're going to have a good baseball game," said Warner.
   Johnson City moves to 11-11 on the season, while Elizabethton drops to 13-7 and trails Bristol by a game and a half in the Western Appalachian Division.
   "Everybody is starting to know their role and gel together a little better, and we got back to .500 tonight, so we've just got to keep it rolling from here," said Warner.