National clips Carter County in all-star 11s

By Matt Wilson
STAR Correspondent

   JOHNSON CITY -- Eleven-year-old all-star squads from both Carter County Little Leagues did battle Friday night in Johnson City Tournament play.
   The cross-town rivals provided fans with an exciting ballgame, which placed one of the teams -- Elizabethton National, an 7-5 winner over Carter County American -- in contention for the tournament's championship game held Saturday night.
   The National League All-Stars jumped out to an early lead that chased the Carter County American starter Dakota Waters in the first inning.
   The Nationals came out swinging with three straight singles off the bats of Chase Depew, Jordan Hodges and Joe Guinn that loaded the bases.
   Jake Davis then drew a bases-loaded walk to plate the contest's first run.
   Two more runs scored on an error by the shortstop. National first baseman Drew Chambers took one for the team and was hit by a pitch, loading the bases yet again.
   Cody Hyder hit into a fielder's choice that plated the national's fourth run. A walk to Justin Bailey plated the National's fifth run before Jonathan Chapman came in to pitch and stopped the bleeding with a much-needed strikeout of Depew.
   After the dust had settled the National's starter, Jordan Hodges, was staked to a 5-0 lead.
   That seemed plenty for Hodges, who allowed no hits through the first four innings and struck out nine of the possible 12 outs.
   The American reliever, Chapman, was able to hold the Nationals in check until the fourth frame, when Guinn reached on a walk and promptly swiped second base. Guinn wasn't satisfied with that and headed for third on the next pitch.
   An errant throw by the catcher got by the third baseman and headed down the left-field line, plating Guinn to give the Nationals a commanding six-run lead going into the fifth.
   The feisty American squad then proved why they were all-stars and refused to bow down in defeat easily.
   The hard-throwing Hodges seemed to be tiring and the opportunistic American squad took advantage.
   Tyler Jaynes finally got the Americans in the hit column with a solid single to right off Hodges. From there, Jaynes was caught stealing second on a nice throw by the catcher Cody Hyder.
   Samuel Parlier drew a walk to get the American rally started. Parlier moved up to second on a wild pitch before Justin Pierce's ground ball was too tough to handle for the Nationals and the error put men on first and third.
   A second straight error on a ground ball by Boles plated Parlier with the American's first run and moved Pierce and Boles into scoring position. Chapman then walked to load the bases.
   Franky Covarrubias then came up with a big time clutch single to right that plated Pierce and Boles.
   Dan Campbell then doubled home Chapman and the clutch-hitting Covarrubias to draw the Americans within one run at 6-5.
   The game-tying run was stranded at second, though, as the Nationals brought in Depew, who put a damper on the American rally.
   So many times in baseball the player who makes an outstanding defensive play is the first man up to bat in the next frame. Depew then tripled to lead off the National final at bat. Depew came home as Hodges reached on an error, giving the Nationals a little breathing room.
   The Americans hoped for another rally in the bottom of the sixth but National reliever Ethan Fleenor slammed the door on any hopes of a comeback as he struck out the first two batters he faced and collected the final out himself on a pop fly to send the Nationals closer to the tournament's championship game.
   National league skipper Jerry Hyder was pleased with his pitchers' performances.
   "Hodge is a good pitcher and he did a good job," Hyder said. "We put ourselves in a bad situation with errors behind him. Ethan Fleenor was big time for us. He came in confident and closed the door for us".