Elizabethton clubs Bristol

By Wes Holtsclaw
star staff

  BRISTOL--The pest that crawled across the Boyce Cox Field warning track in the bottom of the ninth inning was fitting, because the Bristol White Sox were finally "skunk'd" by the Elizabethton Twins.
  After losing four of the last five to the rival Sox, the 'Betsy Bombers battled back from a big loss on Tuesday to give the home team a taste of its own medicine.
  Elizabethton rallied for 15 hits, including three home runs, and had solid pitching to help pull out an 11-4 decision across the state line.
  In the beginning of the evening, it appeared that it would be another long night for the Twins, with BriSox rookie Gio Gonzalez only allowing two hits in his three innings of work on the mound.
  That was the first Bristol mistake. Once Lucas Harrell took the mound, it was all over.
  The Twins bounced back from a 2-0 deficit with a five-run fourth inning and never looked back.
  "The guys have been working hard about their situational hitting and they tried to get those 2-0 and 3-1 offensive type counts," said Elizabethton manager Ray Smith.
  The work paid off for Matt Tolbert, Johnny Woodard and Deacon Burns, who each had a homer in the game.
  "When they get them in their zone, we want them to swing it like a man and hit it over the lights," Smith said.
  David Shinskie took his second win for Elizabethton.
  The Pennsylvania native was plagued by the Bristol duo of Javier Castillo and Brandon Allen, who combined for the Sox's four runs, with a triple and three doubles.
  However, he battled strong through six innings and got the proper closing help of an improved Frank Mata, who sat three down in his two innings, and Javier Martinez, who wound the night with a strikeout.
  Castillo scored Bristol's first and second runs in the first and third innings after doubles from Allen.
  He walked to lead off the sixth, scoring on a Jose DeLos Santos sacrificed fly, while Allen singled and scored on a crazy lodging rule.
  "The ball took a bad hop and our catcher blocked it the way we teach the thing, and it bounced up underneath his chest protector," said Smith. "(The official) said because it was lodged, they were going to give him an extra base.
  "It was nothing intentional. (Pitching coach Jim) Shellenback's been in the game 40 years and I'm not too far behind him, but I've never seen that. I'm going to go back and check, but I've never heard of that before."
  "They're talking about lodging and when it lodges into something of the facility or the stadium, you give the guy an extra base and it's fine," he said. "That's not a lodge in the guy's chest protector, that was an incidental thing. That's common sense. I would hope they would teach common sense in umpire school."
  Elizabethton's fourth inning began with a double from Burns. Jeremy Pickrel walked to set up back-to-back RBI singles from David Winfree and Woodard.
  Tolbert and Tarrence Patterson, who added a triple to open the game, followed up with RBI singles to wind out the inning.
  In the fifth, Winfree was held after a walk, when Woodard blooped a shallow foul ball. Miscommunication between Bristol's third-baseman, DeLos Santos, and catcher Matt Lenderman allowed the ball to drop.
  Woodard made them pay.
  With two strikes against him, the third round pick in 2003 smashed his second homer of the year above the foul pole in right field.
  "It was like a change up," said the Fairfield, California native Woodard. "I had two strikes and he kind of hung it. I put a nice swing on it."
  The team wasn't done.
  In the sixth inning with an out, it was Tolbert's turn. The 16th-round pick out of Ole Miss delivered one of his own into left center.
  "I wasn't trying to hit a home run. It happens like that every time," said Woodville, Mississippi's Tolbert. "You just try to hit the ball hard and it just got up there. I'm not a home run hitter, so I need to settle down and hit more line drives. I can't do that every time."
  Trevor Plouffe and Burns followed with singles to set up a two-run 400-foot double off the center-field wall from Pickrel.
  Burns capped the night in the ninth with his second jack of the year, a 365-foot solo drive into right field.
  The Texas native led Elizabethton with three hits in the game, while Tolbert, Winfree, Woodard, Patterson and Pickrel each had two of the team's 15.
  Tonight, the Twins hope to carry the offense over against a strong Pulaski club, which suffered their first loss Tuesday against Burlington.
  The Blue Jays swept the Appy League Player of the Week honors and have the league's best 9-1 record.
  "It seems like we can get into the pitching now, with a few games into the season," added Woodard. "We have a home game tomorrow, hopefully we can get it to carry over."
  "It was great. Everybody was hitting tonight," added Tolbert, who had one hit prior to his stellar Wednesday outing. "You always want to have those types of nights. It doesn't happen every night, but I'm glad we came out swinging and hopefully we'll continue that."
  The Ole Miss star is also happy for the opportunity to play in the Appalachian League.
  "It's awesome," he said. "I just thank God that I've got to come up here and I hope I can continue to play."
  Little League Night, which provides free admission for all Little League players and coaches, will mark a special Elizabethton visit by Minnesota General Manager and Vice President Terry Ryan.
  It will also mark the arrival of Twins first-round pick and left-handed pitcher Glen Perkins.
  Barring any bad weather, it could be a great night at the ballpark.