Carolina can't cool Thunder  

By Marvin Birchfield
star staff

  The Tennessee Thunder has been making a lot of noise lately, and it stormed the Carolina Copperheads in 8-2 and 5-0 finals on Saturday to push its win streak to 10 games in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League.
  The Thunder remains at the top of the standing at 26-7, and with the way things are unfolding it'll be difficult for the other league teams to knock them off its late-season stride.
  "We're hitting the ball well and seeing it, and we're putting the ball in play and putting them together, which is the main thing," said Tennessee Thunder coach Glenn Davis. "Our pitching staff has done a really good job, and my assistants have done great with what they're doing."
  In the first contest on Saturday, the Thunder came back after going down 2-0 in the top of the first inning.
  A hit to deep center field from John Patterson scored Pat Hartis and Derek Brown, giving the Copperheads an early advantage.
  Tennessee responded with a run in the bottom of the frame, after an error at shortstop was committed and Andrew Belcher knocked a ground-out to score Aaron Porter.
  The Thunder capitalized off of two errors from Carolina to start the bottom of the second.
  A shot from David Long to the pitcher resulted in a bad throw to first base, which allowed C.J. Lee to score to tie the contest.
  "In the first game we scrapped early, and we put our pitcher in a hole. He threw well enough to win," said Carolina Copperheads coach Jamie Billings. "We've had the same kind of trouble all season with adversity and rebounding. When our pitching has been solid we haven't hit, and when we hit our pitching has suffered, and the defense has been suspect all year for us."
  Tennessee connected on two more runs before the frame ended when Thomas Lister smacked a grounder to right field, driving in Long, and a single by Danny Holloway brought home Jon Edmonds.
  The Thunder racked up three more runs in the fifth frame, with the first score coming off a double to deep left by Justin Price, driving in Porter.
  "We had two losses last week after a two week layoff and we were a little rusty, and we lost the first one 10-5 and should of won the second game, but let them come back late," said Price. "Since then we haven't loss, and it's a lot of fun. This is the best team I've ever been on."
  A balk from the pitcher on a play where Matt Traylor attempted to steal second with two outs resulted in Price advancing home.
  Another run crossed when Long drilled a hit to deep left field, which brought home Traylor to give Tennessee a 7-2 lead after five innings.
  Danny McCreedy started the contest for Tennessee, and after giving up the two runs in the first, he was solid on the mound until sitting down after the sixth frame.
  McCreedy recorded his eighth win on the season, as he has failed to give up a loss so far.
  "In the first couple of innings I was battling the cold and felt a little rusty where I was coming off of two days from the All-Star game, but I settled down later on," said McCreedy.
  McCreedy found himself in trouble during the sixth inning with bases loaded and two outs, but the right-hander from King College kept his poise. The Thunder used a routine out on a fly and a strikeout to escape the frame.
  "That's a tough situation to be in, and you've just got to throw strikes then," said McCreedy. "We made a lot of good plays on hard-hit balls to knock them down, and that's what you've got to have. You can't pitch without the fielders."
  The last run of game one scored when Carolina committed its sixth error on the evening, with the second-baseman missing on a throw to first, which enabled Tyler Belcher to score.
  In the second contest of the double-header, the Thunder continued to make the defensive stops while coming up with hits when runners were on base.
  In the top of the first, a grounder to Price resulted in a throw to second and then to first for a double play.
  In the bottom of the frame, Tennessee captured its first score when a sacrifice fly by Andrew Belcher brought in Holloway.
  The Thunder had bases loaded in the bottom of the second, and what should have been a nice turn of a double play to deny a score was ruled that the catcher stepped off the plate when he received the ball.
  The mistake allowed Long, who had reached base on a double down the third-base line, to score.
  Two more runs crossed after a chopper over shortstop drove in Tyler Belcher and Lister.
  "We had a questionable call at the plate that we didn't rebound from. They came up with a big hit and drove in three runs when we should have been out of the inning," said Billings. "We hit the ball hard, but unfortunately we hit the ball right at them."
  Tennessee added its fifth run of the game when Price led off with a solo home run to left field to start the bottom of the fourth.
  "We have a solid pitching staff and they don't let them score more than three or four runs a game, and our defense is pretty solid," said Price. "We have nine or ten guys that could be a three or four hitter on about any team, so we're not weak anywhere."
  Kevin Hammonds pitched the first four innings for the Thunder, striking out seven batters, then Brett Seybert, Stephen Jarrett and Chris Gamble all came in to pitch one inning apiece to finish out the contest.
  "We've become selective now," Davis said. "We're making the hits count and swinging through the ball with not many strikeouts. When you have good athletes you play good baseball, and I put the line-up together and just let them go."