Riverdogs best Kentucky team in AAU tournament

By Ivan Sanders
STAR STAFF
isanders@starhq.com
Loud rumblings could be heard coming from Cannon-Gouge Field Saturday morning like the rush of a thunderous mountain waterfall crashing down on the valley below.
The reason was that the host East Tennessee Riverdogs came storming back from a 1-0 deficit after three innings to wipe out Bourbon County, Kent., by a score of 6-2 in the Rumbling in the Mountain 14-under AAU tournament.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on one hit and two Riverdog errors, Bourbon Co. caged the 'Dogs over the next two innings, allowing only one hit and no runs. The host were gracious by not capitalizing offensively on some bunt and steal situations with runners in scoring position.
That's when the Riverdogs' bite became louder than its bark as ET rallied in the top of the fourth with two runs. Josh Guinn doubled to open the inning and advanced to third on a bunt single by Preston Smith.
Smith swiped second with Logan Bowers laying down a perfectly executed safety squeeze to plate Guinn. Christen Taylor drove a ball to left field that was deep enough to score Smith on the sacrifice fly.
Bourbon County responded with one run in the bottom of the inning to even the score at 2--2. Tee Ellis singled to open the Kentucky team's inning and took second on a passed ball.
The Riverdogs were looking to get out of the inning after recording two consecutive outs before Brad Browning lined a single to score Ellis. Browning was erased when he tried to stretch the single into a double.
Bourbon Co. retired the first two Riverdogs in the fifth inning before Nathan Matthews reached on an error by Bourbon Co. second baseman Walker Hancock.
Breathing new life, J.C. Atkinson singled to put runners at first and second. Miles Key, who had been struggling at the plate as of late, stepped up big by drilling an Evans offering deep over the center fielder's head for a two-run double.
With a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Riverdogs hurler Weston Isaacs ran into a little trouble by walking two Bourbon Co. batters. Pitching coach Steve Hyder made the decision to call upon hard-throwing Christen Taylor to shut the door.
Taylor got the job done to keep the Riverdogs ahead. After a scoreless sixth, the 'Dogs were looking for a little insurance in the seventh against the tough Bourbon Co. team, that carried a 2-0 ledger in pool play.
After a fly ball out, Christen Taylor smoked an Evans pitch to the gap and reached third with a one-out triple. Corey Hilton's sacrifice fly to left scored Taylor and gave the Riverdogs breathing room at 5-2.
Back-to-back walks to Austin Taylor and Isaacs set the table for Matthews, who picked up Taylor with a run-scoring single. The Riverdog defense held in the bottom of the inning to take a big win and keep its pool play record spotless at 2-0.
"We missed a couple of bunt executions early to advance the runners, but we managed to come back and manufacture some much needed runs," said Riverdog skipper Gary Smith.
"Isaacs did a heck of a job on the mound, and Miles really hit the ball well along with Austin Taylor."
Championship rounds are scheduled today at Cannon-Gouge Field as the tournament wraps up.