Twins bog down after delay, lose

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY--A slight wind and rain storm Monday night forced a 50-minute delay, which might've been the best thing for the Johnson City Cardinals.
   Before the sixth-inning storm, the Elizabethton Twins had scored two runs and, with a 5-3 lead, were in position to keep rolling against Redbird pitcher Quinton Robertson.
   However, new pitchers shook things up when the skies cleared and the Cardinals battled to tie the game in the eighth and force an extra inning.
   After a pair of singles from Chad Gabriel and Samuel Herbert, Juan Lucena stepped up with a pinch-hit, game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th to give the home team a 6-5 victory at Cardinal Park.
   "We walked nine tonight," said Elizabethton manager Ray Smith. "It's tough enough to get three outs and stuff on a good hitting club, and we kept giving them passes. Eventually, they're going to drive some guys in. Our inability to throw strikes kind of cost us."
   Johnson City got back from the rain delay with a strong 360-foot shot from Billy Becher in the seventh.
   A throw tipped off the glove of Elizabethton's Trevor Plouffe allowed Jose Delgado to score after walking in the eighth, and Johnson City held their visitors with big defensive plays to secure the win.
   "We came off of the rain delay and played two pretty good innings defensively," Smith said. "We got some pretty good pitching outside of one pitch by the new guy, (Jay) Sawatski. That one left-handed hitter (Becher) was the one we thought he could get out of, but he's been swinging a hard bat the past two nights."
   The victory move's Johnson City into the top spot in the West Division, ahead of Elizabethton.
   The Twins can still force a tie atop the leader board if they are victorious against the Cards in a 7 p.m. showdown tonight.
   Elizabethton got on the board at the top of the first inning with a single from Landon Burt and a follow-up triple courtesy of Plouffe.
   Deacon Burns sacrificed Plouffe across the plate with a grounder to take the opening lead.
   Johnson City bounced back with a double from Tony Granadillo, who scored on a sacrifice fly from Herbert in the second. The Cardinals tied the game in the third when Delgado walked and scored on a Sandy Diaz RBI single.
   Elizabethton regained the lead in the fourth when Javier Sanchez singled and Javier Lopez followed suit with an RBI triple down the right-field line.
   However, the Cardinals returned the favor when Herbert walked and scored as part of a 4-3 putout on Brandon Yarbrough.
   The Twins got their biggest offensive boost in the sixth when the catcher, Sanchez, singled and scored on a Johnny Woodard double, which also went into the deep right gap.
   Australian second baseman Luke Hughes stepped up big later in the inning with a single up the hill in left-center field to score Woodard.
   Then came the powerful winds that attempted to lift the tarp off the field and dropped the attendance of 724.
   Each team had 11 hits in the game with an error.
   Gabriel, Herbert and Yarbrough each had two hits apiece for Johnson City. Javi Sanchez, who also scored two runs, and Woodard led the Twins with their three hits in the game.
   Hughes, Burt, Plouffe and Burns added a hit apiece for Elizabethton, while Diaz, Belcher, Nelson, Lucena and Tony Granadillo got one hit for Johnson City.
   Kyle Aselton took the loss for 'Betsy after pitching the final two innings and giving up four hits and two earned runs.
   Elizabethton starter David Shinskie and John Williams each walked three while giving up three and two hits, respectively, for the Twins.
   Quinton Robertson pitched 5.2 innings for the Cardinals, allowing eight hits and each of Elizabethton's five earned runs. He had two strikeouts, along with his relievers Domingo Capellan and Timothy Gross.
   However, Mark Worrell picked up the win after two innings of closing work. He yielded only two hits and had a strikeout.