Twins rock Danville

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   A battle between the two top teams in the Appalachian League ended in lopsided fashion on Tuesday night, with the Elizabethton Twins cruising to a 16-1 final over Danville at Joe O'Brien Field.
   "Sometimes we're on the delivering end of these type of games, but fortunately tonight we found ourselves on the receiving end," said Elizabethton manager Ray Smith.
   The Twins were phenomenal from the plate, acquiring 17 hits as Justin Arneson smacked a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh for the second time in his career.
   "I felt really good tonight for the first time this season, and my switch-hitting is finally starting to come around," said Arneson.
   Danville grabbed the early lead in the top of the second when a solo home-run shot by Matt Esquivel off a pitch from Evan Meek gave the Braves a 1-0 advantage.
   "Meek has been blessed with the ability of his right arm, and that was the only mistake he made all night from the mound," said Smith. "I think he realized it after that and made sure to not make the same mistake."
   The lead disappeared quickly in the bottom of the second, in which a triple by Ron Perodin tied the contest, driving in Ryan Spataro.
   A fielder's choice from Arneson gave the Twins the lead, as Perodin was able to beat the throw home.
   Elizabethton added to its advantage in the bottom of the third when a ground single to right field by Jesse Collins brought home Spataro.
   The bases were later loaded with just one out, but the Twins were denied of padding their lead when a grounder to the second baseman resulted in a double play.
   The momentum continued to build for Elizabethton in the fifth frame as four runs crossed the plate off of three hits.
   A rip up the middle from Brock Peterson brought home Collins, who had managed to reach base off one of two walks thrown by pitcher Sean White during the inning.
   Arneson smacked another base hit to bring two runs across the plate, with Spataro and Perodin both scoring.
   "I knew I was capable of getting the job done, and with Felix Molina being moved up it has given me a better opportunity to get in some more innings and prove myself," said Arneson.
   Meek pitched for the first six innings, giving up one run and three hits before Ryan Hader got the call to start the seventh frame.
   In the bottom of the seventh, the game fell apart for Danville as the Twins nearly batted twice around before the final out.
   The scoring extravaganza started with a shot from Perodin to left-center field, bringing home Peterson.
   Arneson was three for five on the night, and his three-run homer down the right-field line drove in his seventh run of the game.
   "We face good pitching and good athletes every night, but all of us brought the whole package with us tonight," said Arneson. "You can't be on stride every night, but we definitely found our stride in this game."
   The Twins continued to hammer away with a looper to left field coming from Kyle Phillips that scored Denard Span and J.R. Taylor.
   A walk to Perodin with the bases loaded brought another run to the plate, which forced the Braves to make a pitching change, with Dan Mead replacing Roberto Nieves.
   Peterson and Arneson were both 2-for-2 at the plate in the bottom of the seventh, as Elizabethton took a commanding lead by capturing nine runs.
   It appeared that Danville might be able to trim the huge deficit in the top of the eighth after acquiring hits from Cole Barthel and Edwin Martinez.
   A great sliding catch from the right fielder Spataro kept the runners from advancing, then the Elizabethton defense gunned down the next two hitters.
   The win improves the Twins record to 22-11 on the season, giving them a three-game lead over Bristol in the West Division, while Danville keeps a one-game advantage over Martinsville in the East.
   "We're coming into what is called dog days, and you have to be mentally prepared in order to be physically ready," said Smith. "We didn't get in much practice before the game due to the weather, but we seemed a lot fresher today than what we have been at times this season."