'Betsy 13s wrap up pool play in USSSA Nationals

By Ivan Sanders

It was a hot, sultry Tuesday afternoon at Johnson City's Winged Deer Park as the Elizabethton 13-year-old All-Stars finished up pool play action in the USSSA National Tournament.
Elizabethton had the tough task of facing off against the Foothill Phantoms from North Carolina and the Rogersville Braves.
In Game 1, Elizabethton built a 2-0 early advantage against the Foothill Phantoms, but a late rally by the Phantoms vanished the lead and gave Foothills a 3-2 win in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Elizabethton grabbed the 2-0 edge in the top of the second inning as pitcher Cody Marley reached on an error by the Phantom second baseman, who allowed the ball to scoot underneath his glove.
Wendell Loving then enticed Phantom pitcher David Carswell into a base-on-balls, placing runners at first and second.
Catcher C.J. Campbell hit a ball that the Foothill first baseman bobbled on the throw, allowing Marley to score with Loving taking third.
Elizabethton manager C.Y. Peters rolled the dice as he sent Campbell to second with Loving breaking from third on a delayed steal. The Phantoms had the play read, but the throw from shortstop was late as Loving crossed the dish safely.
Marley was able to cruise through most of the game, ringing up six strikeouts along the way. The defensive effort behind Marley was excellent as right fielder Loving made two outstanding plays by snagging a deep fly ball that looked like a double, and throwing a runner out at first on a sure base hit.
The Phantoms, meanwhile, did not roll over and disappear as they hung tough with some solid defense of their own until the offense could respond. Foothills final broke into the scoring column in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Zach English singled and was driven home by a blistering double off the bat of shortstop Seth Phillips. Heading into the home stretch, Elizabethton now was trying to keep its grasp on the slippery Phantoms leading by a slim 2-1 margin.
Elizabethton went quietly in its at-bat in the seventh with the Phantoms now riding the tide of momentum. It was a ride that sent an eerie chill through the Elizabethton club.
Ryan Suttles led off the bottom of the frame with a double, but was erased on a fielder's choice by Jeremy Freeman. Ellis Martin drew a walk from Marley and was followed by Eric Chiz with a single to load the bags.
Tyler Delehant worked Marley to draw four straight balls, with Freeman evening the score at 2-2. With the bags still juiced, Steven Dyson looped a ball to short center that fell in front of Mathias Maines to give Martin all the room he needed to scoot across with the winning run and give Foothills the 3-2 win.
"I thought Cody Marley pitched great," said 'Betsy manager Peters after the game. "We made just too many base running and fielding errors to win. We are getting smarter and when we can keep from giving the other team those gifts, then we will be a very, very good ball team."
Elizabethton collected three hits with Jeff Peters, Nick Papantoniou, and Blake Hopson registering singles in the contest. English, Suttles, and Chiz picked up two base knocks apiece for Foothills in the eight-hit affair.
In the second contest of the day for the team from Elizabethton, Rogersville took advantage of Peters trying to rest his regular starters for today's action by roughing up Elizabethton's fresh set of starters.
Outscoring 'Betsy 9-1 in the first three innings, the Braves from Rogersville had to hold off a late charge when Peters inserted the beef of his squad to take a hard-fought 12-10 win.
Elizabethton closed the gap to 10-7 in the top of the sixth inning only to see the Braves respond with two in its portion of the inning to take a 12-7 advantage. The runs would prove vital as 'Betsy scored three more times in the top of the seventh to narrow the deficit to the final score.
C.J. Campbell paced Elizabethton by going 3-for-4 with five runs batted in. Wendell Loving added two hits, as did Jeff Peters to pace Elizabethton's 14-hit attack. Matthias Maines, Brandon Cole, Bryant Collins, Jeremy Hall, Aaron Bradford, Blake Hopson and Nick Papantoniou pitched in with one hit each.
"We've played everyday for 10 straight days, but I still don't think the fatigue factor has had anything to do with our play," stated C.Y. Peters. "These boys play hard and won't quit."
Added C.Y: "If our big guys will step up in the double elimination part of the tournament and the other smaller guys will just be patient at the plate, we have the ability to knock the cover off the ball. We have come a long way since we started.
"Shoot, most people didn't give us a chance to make it to state, and we finished fourth. This team is going to be a very good team!"
Elizabethton wrapped up as the number three-seeded team behind Rogersville and Foothills. The Troop Hurricanes from Georgia had to settle for the fourth and last seed.
With their seeding, the Elizabethton squad will square off against Foothills once again at 11:30 a.m. today in the double-elimination bracket leading to the national championship. If Elizabethton wins, it plays again at 4:30 p.m., but a loss will force them to loser bracket action at 2 p.m.