Nationals dispose of Bristol Western

By Tim Chambers

   Acceleration off the starting line is very important in becoming a top-notch driver in the racing world. If the same held true for baseball, then the Elizabethton National All-Stars resembled Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the first inning Thursday night at T.J. Burleson Field.
   The National stars rode a four-run first inning in knocking off Bristol Western 8-3 to stay alive in the 11/12-year-old all-star tournament.
   Walks to Jake Hodge and Cody Hyder set the stage for Joe Guinn, who bounced a single over second to score Hodge. Jacob Davis reached by way of a fielder's choice, then Drew Clark drilled a double for another RBI.
   The Nationals continued to pound away in the second inning with three more runs.
   Hodge singled to pave the way for Guinn, who sent a fast ball over the center-field wall for a 6-2 advantage. Derek Mann reached on an infield single and later scored on a base hit by Drew Chambers.
   Bristol Western tallied two in the second on a single two walks and an error. The Nationals got their final run in the third when Bobby Campbell laid down a perfect bunt and moved to second on another sacrifice bunt by Ethan Fleenor. Hodge delivered a sacrifice fly scoring the final run.
   Elizabethton National had several chances to score, but two terrific plays from Western's shortstop, T.J. Simmons, kept the Bristol Stars within striking range.
   Hodge pitched five innings to get the win. Hodge allowed only one hit over five innings, striking out nine before giving way to Derek Mann, who pitched a perfect inning in the sixth.
   Guinn was the hitting star for Elizabethton National, going 3 for 3 while reaching base four times. Guinn belted a double along with the home run to cap off a stellar performance at the plate.
   Campbell went 2 for 2 to help the cause while Chambers and Clark chipped in at 1 for 2 with an RBI apiece.
   "We swung the bats well and Jake (Hodge) pitched a great game," said Elizabethton National manager B.J. Guinn. "Hopefully we'll be ready to play in the district Saturday."
   Elizabethton will be back in action Saturday at Jim Ensor Field. Game time has yet to be determined.