E-Twins subdue Pulaski

By Marvin Birchfield
star staff

  After getting off to a sluggish start at the beginning of the week, the Elizabethton Twins have been able to make the 180-degree spin with two straight wins, including a 6-3 decision over Pulaski on Thursday night at O'Brien Field.
  The Twins (5-6) were trailing in the west standings heading into the contest, while Pulaski had a near-perfect record of 9-1, with their only loss coming Wednesday against Burlington.
  "I thought we played a pretty good game at Bristol last night, and I don't want our young players to start doubting their abilities after five or six games," said Twins manager Ray Smith. "Five or six games doesn't mean anything. They're at the point of trying to get their feet wet.
  "In pro ball, with the kind of pitching you'll face night in and night out, you've got to be strong mentally."
  Rain set in during the bottom of the eighth, and the game was finally called after an hour of suspension.
  Elizabethton was led by David Winfree, who crushed two home runs on the evening, with a total of four runs being drove in.
  The first homer came in the bottom of the second frame, when Winfree nailed a two-run shot over the "green monster" wall in center field, which scored Jeremy Pickrel.
  "I was just looking for the pitch and we had worked earlier today on stuff like raising my hand and had a good at bat," said Winfree. "I drove it and I didn't think it was going to be a double."
  Chris Marini headed the mound for Elizabethton to start the game, as he converted three strikeouts in the first frame along with two walks.
  Marini became rattled a little in the third after he began the frame with a walk and hit batter, which eventually led to two runs.
  A hard line drive from Nick Thomas bounced off the glove of second-baseman Luke Hughes to drive home Mike Macaluso.
  Yuber Rodriguez followed with a chopper over the third-baseman to bring in Craig Badger and tie the contest during the third.
  "When you play at this level every night, then you don't know what to expect," said Blue Jays manager Gary Cathcart. "I think we have a good ball club obviously, and when you play 69-70 games with these guys being first-year players, then you're going to have your peaks and valleys."
  Winfree came up big again in the bottom of the fourth, and gained the nickname "The Manster" -- meaning part man, part monster -- from Twins radio analyst Frank Santaore
  Another two-run homer came from Winfree with a shot to right-center field, driving in Pickrel for the second time.
  "The next at bat he made the same mistake in leaving something hanging over the plate, and I got a pretty good swing on it," said Winfree. "They're a good team, and if we can get a sweep then that will be really good."
  The Twins led 4-2 heading into the fifth frame, but a lead-off hit from Macaluso and error in right field resulted in the advantage being cut in half.
  A hit up the middle from Luke Hetherington drove in Macaluso to make it a 4-3 game at the end of the fifth.
  For the first time this season, Elizabethton connected on its third home run of the contest as Javier Lopez crushed a two-run homer to left field. Johnny Woodard had led off with a double on a shot to the center-field wall.
  "He kept on throwing the ball outside, and I waited for him to come in with it and guessed right," said Lopez. "It's about time we start hitting the ball real hard."
  The Twins had a three-run lead after the seventh frame, and three straight outs by the Blue Jays set the Twins up with one inning remaining after their turn at bat.
  Elizabethton came out to connect on hits from Deacon Burns and Pickrel, and following a fielder's choice by Winfree, action was stopped due to rain showers dampening the field.
  The Twins' next meeting will be tonight at 7, taking on Pulaski once again as they continue to make their way toward the top of the West Division in the Appalachian League.
  "We've been working hard in all the pre-game activities, and all the fundamental stuff we've been emphasizing over the last 10 days," said Smith. "We try to tell them to have confidence in your abilities -- you're blessed with the hand-eye coordination and athleticism."