Dino's, Milligan Grocery, Larry's prove victorious

By Marvin Birchfield

The Open League tournament was in full swing on Wednesday, as Dino's, Milligan Grocery and Larry's Muffler were all victorious to keep their seasons alive.
In the first game of the night, the Cundy Merchants squeezed by the Smokers in a 13-12 final to continue their postseason play.
After acquiring a 7-3 lead through the first three innings, the Smokers got burned in the bottom of the fourth as Cundy grabbed a one-run advantage.
A hit from Nick McKinney drove in the go-ahead run, with Robbie Turbyfill crossing the plate.
The Smokers came back in the final frame to tie the contest, after Brian Stevens smacked a double to score Jackson Lowe and Curtis Shell.
Needing just one run to get the win in the bottom of the seventh, a hit from Thomas Buchanan brought home Kim Barnette for the win.
Milligan Grocery 17
Cundy Merchants 12
Milligan Grocery was able to hold off Cundy Merchants after stocking up on a load of runs during the second frame.
Nine runs scored during the top of the second, as more runners were crossing the plate than people coming in and out of a convenience store. Home-run blasts from Tim Parks and Curtis Hughes showed the strength of Milligan's big hitters.
Milligan enjoyed a five-run lead heading into the last inning as a solo homer from Brian Hughes and a sacrafice fly by Curtis Hughes scored "Money" Jimmy Townsend.
The Merchants tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh, when the first five hitters managed to reach base, but Milligan was able to put the game away by retiring three of the last four batters faced.
Dino's 27
Larry's Muffler 24
What seemed to be headed for a short game and long night for Larry's Muffler turned out to become a great comeback but heartbreaking Muffler loss.
"We came back, but just had too many mistakes to be able to win this one, and you can't do that against a team like this," said Larry's Muffler Jon Degon.
A 15-2 lead was grabbed by Dino's after the first inning, when a slew of hits and the home-run limit was implemented.
Tim Morgan started off with a crushing shot to oncoming traffic on 19-E, as the home run brought in Jeff Hutchins and Larry Absher, with hits continuing to be served by team "LHO".
The game improved for Larry's Muffler in the top of the second, in which an inside-the-park home run was captured by Bo Hartsock when Jerry Rouse went to field the grounder that got past him.
"You have to learn to crawl before you can walk," shouted out a spectator, referring to the blunder by Rouse.
Larry's Muffler had gotten itself behind but were by no means out, as it chipped away at the deficit to finally obtain the lead in the top of the fifth.
Three straight homers were hit, and a triple from Degon scored Randy Carr and gave Larry's the lead.
It was a six-run lead that Larry's enjoyed heading into the bottom of the inning, but Dino's found a way to make the rally after a couple of errors became costly.
A hit from Craig Ingram and error by the shortstop gave the lead back to Dino's, with David Bowers and David Hicks both scoring.
After capturing a four-run lead, Dino's held off Larry's Muffler by allowing just one run in the bottom of the sixth.
"I apologize for the comments I made last time about this field out here," said Jerry Rouse. "The fact of the matter is the guys at the park and rec have done a good job and made it better, but it's just the shape it had gotten in from years past was what I was complaining about.
"Those guys and Mike Mains do a good job, but it's like the saying goes, 'you can't make chicken soup out of chicken s#!%.'"
Larry's Muffler 24
Elizabethton Herb & Metal 2
Larry's Muffler came back during their second contest to post a 24-2 victory over Elizabethton Herb & Metal to end its season.
Herb & Metal has struggled at times this year, but they have been present at every contest with a no-quit attitude.
Receiving harsh and unfair criticism from what some may consider to be an abrasive reporter has often ruffled the Herb & Metal feathers, but the one thing you can say is this team probably has more fun than any other.
"These guys are just recreational players, and you could take them out to the Johnson City league and they'd probably beat most of those teams," said Herb & Metal's Eddie Whitaker. "We're just out here to have fun."
Herb & Metal never had much of a chance in this contest, as Larry's Muffler was simply too strong at the plate, capturing 24 runs by the end of three innings.
A grand slam was hit by Jason Byrd in the third frame to make it 21-0 at that point, as Larry's Muffler was still kicking themselves for the prior loss against Dino's.
Herb & Metal was able to acquire two runs in the final frame, with a sacrifice fly from Thomas Proffitt scoring Mitch Lathen, and a double by Michael Bennett driving home Tony Oliver.