E-Twins finish three-game sweep of Sox

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com


It was a familiar scene Monday in the eighth inning for Elizabethton Twins designated hitter Kyle Phillips.
The California native had Ryan Spataro aboard the bases with a full count when he hit the ball into center field.
Reminiscent of the previous game against the Bristol White Sox, Bristol center fielder Chris Young had Phillips' ball bounce off the back of his glove, granting Phillips another bloop, game-winning RBI single as the 'Betsy Bombers pulled the hat-trick over Bristol with a 2-1 victory at O'Brien Field.
"It was an exciting win that could've gone either way," said Twins manager Ray Smith. "They go against one of the best in the league (Phillips) and the pitcher (Demetrius Banks) makes good on him. He takes some ugly swings and gets down with the bat against the best defensive center fielder in the league. It hits him in the back of the palm and we got lucky."
A pair of 2-1 victories wasn't easy for Elizabethton (17-9), but it pulls the team within a half-game of Bristol's West Division lead (18-9).
"Either game could've went either way," Smith said. "But we're not ready to order the rings. We're not the '27 Yankees, we have to keep battling. Bristol has the best talent, I think, in the league, but it's fun to be in the mix of things. We still have a long ways to go."
The Twins got good starting pitching from John Uhl, and held the Sox defensively during several close calls throughout the game with solid pitching from game-winning Dennis Medina and Julio DePaula, who took the save.
Angelo Fermin led Elizabethton with two hits and some sparky defense.
"Our pitching did a heck of a job," Smith added. "We've had consistent starters and our defense has been good. It was nice to see Angelo Fermin in the lineup. He gives us a spark and enjoys playing like all of our young players. It keeps the game fun."
Both teams played solid defense early. Uhl struck out the side during the first inning for the Twins, who got out of the second with a double play.
Bristol, however, battled their way through the second with a rare 1-6-3 triple play and finally got going offensively in the fifth with a pair of hits from Melvin Perez and Eddie Young.
Elizabethton fought through it and carried the momentum into its frame as Brock Peterson sent a rifling 390-foot shot over the left-field wall into the neighboring front yard for his second homer in two games, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead.
"I was kind of slumping into last week," said Peterson. "I've been working hard to set up my swing and I've got a ton of confidence up there."
Bristol battled back after a double from Jhonny Rivera, who scored after an errant fielder's choice from Robert Valido to tie the game.
A pair of singles from Fermin and J.R. Taylor set up the Twins in the sixth inning. The Sox intentionally walked Phillips to load the bases, but battled through the inning without allowing a score.
Neither team had an advantage until Fermin doubled in the eighth, but poor baserunning caught him off-guard after a Spataro bopper. Sony Suarez struck out J.R. Taylor, but was replaced with Demetrius Banks for Phillips.
Banks threw a wild pitch and caught Phillips with a full count before Elizabethton's hitting leader drove in the lead-sealing run.
"It was real important (to make something happen)," said Phillips. "They brought in the lefty to face me. I didn't want to swing but I was down in the count and I tried to foul it off, but I got it."
Elizabethton fell behind in the ninth as Matthew Herring singled and Cesar Castillo walked for Bristol. DePaula took the mound and got two quick outs for the Twins.
An errored shot from Eddie Young loaded the bases for Bristol, but DePaula kept his cool and struck out Esterinson Ramirez to seal the victory for Elizabethton.
"I came in because we were behind," said the Dominican Republic native DePaula. "The big guy came up and missed the ball and I struck him out. I had to make the play for the win."
It was an important victory for the team, which will carry this momentum into a six-game road trip to Bluefield and Princeton.
"It was huge tonight," added Phillips. "We wanted to take three from them. Bristol has a good team, but we got great pitching at the end from DePaula and shut the door. We'll take it."
Said Peterson: "Coming in, we needed to take all of them. It's a short season and we've got to get on top and stay there. It was big."
Perez and Rivera had the only two-hit games for Bristol, while Sony Suarez took the loss from the mound.
Note: Last night was 4-H Night at the ballpark, where all 4-H members gained free admission with the presentation of a clover. There was close to 1,000 people in attendance.