Elizabethton disposes of Danville, 8-1

By Ivan Sanders

   From the opening pitch of the game between Danville and Elizabethton at Carmon Dugger Sports Complex on Thursday night, it was apparent that there was more clicking than the noisemakers used by the Twin fans.
   Errol Simonitsch, a hard-throwing lefty for the E-Twins, found his groove early in the game and threw six innings of shutout baseball to propel the Twins to an 8-1 rubber-game win over the Braves.
   "I usually come out ready to throw, but tonight I came out pumped up and ready to go with a little extra juice," stated Simonitsch while signing several autographs for youngsters. "I felt really good because my curveball and fastball was finding the plate and I was able to get some guys out."
   While Simonitsch was getting the job done on the mound, Dusty Gomon was adding to his league-leading home run slate. After holding the Braves scoreless in the top of the first, Angelo Fermin worked losing pitcher Stephen Russell for a one out walk.
   After Fermin stole second, Gomon stepped up and deposited a Russell offering over the left-center field wall to stake the E-Twins to a 2--0 advantage. It was Gomon's eighth yard ball of the year.
   The Twins added to their lead in the bottom of the second inning, making the Braves pay dearly for two errors in the inning. Ryan Spataro reached on a fielder's choice that eliminated Brock Peterson, who had reached on a walk to open the inning.
   Spataro stole second based and reached third on an error by Braves second baseman Michael Hanson, who bobbled two in the inning. Jason Pospishil ripped a single to pick up Spataro for a 3--0 E-Twin lead after two complete.
   Meanwhile, Simonitsch cruised through most of the six innings he worked, running into serious trouble only once in his stint. In the Braves' sixth, left fielder Josh Burrus doubled and advanced to second on a Ben Thomas ground out.
   Simonitsch bore down on hard-swinging Matt Esquivel for a strikeout. Braves first baseman Scott Schade became another victim, as Simonitsch recorded his eighth strikeout of the game to snuff out the brief rally.
   Leading 3--0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the E-Twins set the Braves teepees aflame by recording five runs on five hits to extend its lead to 8--0.
   J.R. Taylor walked and advanced to third on a Denard Span single. Span took second on a wild pitch by Braves hurler Dan Mead.
   Fermin lofted a sacrifice fly to plate Taylor for the E-Twins' fourth run. A run-scoring single by Kyle Phillips pushed Span to the dish for the inning's second run.
   Gomon collected his third hit of the night and was followed by a RBI single from Jesse Collins. Peterson creamed a pitch to the gap for an RBI double.
   Collins came home as Braves shortstop Willie James booted the ball in trying to nab Peterson sliding hard into the bag.
   Danville finally managed to dent the scoring column, to break up the shutout, in the top of the eighth against Elizabethton reliever Eric Brandon.
   James reached first base on a bunted ball that was blooped over the head of Brandon on the hill. A Hanson single advanced James to second, where he came home on a sharp single by Esquivel.
   Brandon, with some ninth-inning help from Julio DePaula, went on to keep the damage at a minimum and keep the Twins in first place in the West Division of the Appalachian League.
   Simonitsch was thankful for the run support from Gomon's homer and the big rally in the seventh.
   "Dusty is really a great guy and I was glad to see him get another home run tonight," quipped Simonitsch. "It really helped to make me more comfortable with the lead and I was also glad to get the run support in the seventh from the guys."
   Elizabethton will now go on a three-day road trip to Burlington to play in one of the toughest venues in the league. The three-game set with Danville could possibly be a prelude to the league's championship series if both teams keep playing at the pace they have until now.
   The Twins record now stands at 23-12, 11 games over .500 while Danville falls to 21-15. The Braves maintain a half-game lead over Martinsville in the East Division.