Elizabethton settles for second place   

By Marvin Birchfield
star staff
mbirchfield@starhq.com

  After losing in the opening round of the 14-year-old Jr. Babe Ruth All-Star tournament, Elizabethton scrapped back to come within one game of winning the regional title.
  It was the Smokey Mountain All-Stars of Washington County who walked away with the trophy in their 17-8 victory Sunday, but for Elizabethton, life continues as it prepares to travel for chance at the state tournament.
  Elizabethton came into the contest with used-up pitching and a couple of key players on vacation, which stifled its efforts in making the title run.
  "We were just flat-out tired," said Elizabethton All-Stars coach C.Y. Peters. "We were making mental mistakes and throwing the ball away. We've played 14 games in the last eight days.
  "It was a great team effort though. We lost our first game and had to come all the way through, and the biggest thing is we get to go to the state tournament now."
  Nothing could be taken away from Smokey Mountain, which hit the ball extremely well throughout the game, and left few runners on base as opposed to Elizabethton.
  Trouble started for Elizabethton right off the bat, as the three out of the first four SM hitters received walks.
  A mistake on a wild pitch brought in Jimmy Garrett for the first run, and a shot to center field from Charlie Conner scored Barry Van Delinder Jr.
  Elizabethton continued to make mistakes early on, as it seemed like it was not quite focused. An error at second base led to Conner scoring.
  The last two runs crossed for Smokey Mountain when a hit from Garrett to center field and error enabled Austin Fields and Matt Bennett to score.
  "I tried to get through this game without having to use Jeff Peters," said C.Y. Peters. "If I could have got through without using him, then I could of brought him the second game."
  Elizabethton suffered by giving up seven runs in the top of the first, but was able to come back and cut the deficit down to three by the end of the frame.
  A bunt from Jonathan Canady scored Jeff Peters to get Elizabethton on the board, and then a double over first base from Nick Papantoniou scored Canady and Tyler Blevins.
  Justin Peters drove in the final run of the frame with a hit to center field, scoring Papantoniou, as he went 4-for-4 from the plate on the evening.
  Both teams captured a run in the third frame, with Smokey Mountain scoring after a hit from Fields drove home Eric Richardson.
  "We had only three errors as opposed to seven and nine the first two games, and the RBIs were spread out pretty even, so we hit the ball well," said Smokey Mountain assistant coach Barry Van Delinder Sr.
  A ground-out from Brandon Cole kept Elizabethton within three, with Papantoniou making it home.
  An outstanding catch came from Papantoniou as he ran down a hard-hit ball to center field in the top of the fourth, but Elizabethton became rattled before ending the inning, and gave up three runs.
  A balk score Garrett, while a double to deep center field from Trevor Richardson scored Conner.
  The last run scored when Trevor Richardson made a steal home after a wild-pitch, giving Smokey Mountain an 11-5 lead after four frames.
  "It was just an all-around team victory today, because every kid out there contributed to the win," said Van Delinder Sr. "We got the hits when we needed them. We didn't leave many runners stranded on base today."
  Another error from Elizabethton allowed Austin Beam to score in the top of the fifth, but 'Betsy came back to answer with a chopper over the middle from Jeff Peters, scoring Justin Peters.
  Elizabethton added another run in the bottom of the sixth when Thomas Dearstone hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored J.D. Scalf, but two runners were left on base (12 for the game).
  "We left 12 guys on base, and we had bases loaded one time and couldn't get them in," said C.Y. Peters. "Nothing really worked out for us out on the field, because we didn't even get our tags down as quick as usual."
  Smokey Mountain finished on a strong note in the last frame, as five runs crossed to give the team a 10-run advantage.
  Hits from Van Delinder Jr., Conner, and Brandon Massey drove in all five runs that were scored.
  Elizabethton captured just one run in the bottom of the seventh, when Papantoniou ripped a hit up the middle to drive in Jeff Peters.
  Elizabethton will travel for the first round of the state tournament, as it will face Shelbyville this coming week, while Smokey Mountain remains home with a first-round bye.
  "We still alive, and we finished fourth in the Dizzy Dean tournament already this year, where the pitching was awesome," said C.Y. Peters.