Elizabethton hunkers down on White Sox

Photo by Dave Boyd
Barney Fife impersonator David Browning throws out the first pitch, much to the delight of Elizabethton starting pitcher Dennis Medina.

By Rebecca Pierson
Assistant Sports Editor

  Barney Fife may have brought the Elizabethton Twins some good luck on Mayberry night as they came out on top Friday, 4-1, against the Bristol White Sox at Joe O'Brien Field.
  "We know Bristol is a really good team," third baseman Jay Yaconetti said. "We have a really good Western division. We are all pretty close on wins and loses. The first time we played them, they gave us a run for our money. So, we knew we had to come out and play pretty well to beat them."
  The BriSox got on the board in the first. Evan Tartaglia grounded out to center field for a double, then Brandon Johnson hit the ball short to the mound, where Dennis Medina picked it up and made the throw to David Winfree on first for the out.
  Jose De Los Santos grounded to third and Yaconetti made the throw to first for the out as Tartaglia reached around for the first run. Javier Castillo had a single to right field, but Manuel Rodriguez struck out.
  Both teams next went three up, three down until the bottom of the second, when Winfree hit a double straight down the right-field line but nobody could get him around.
  In the bottom of the third, Timothy Lahey opened up with a strikeout, but Luke Hughes backed him up with a single to center field. BriSox pitcher Jay Marshall threw a wild pitch to Tarrence Patterson and Hughes advanced to third. Patterson would fly out but Trevor Plouffe doubled to right center for an RBI to tie up the score.
  Both teams held up their defense in the fourth and fifth frames but the Twins would take the lead in the sixth.
  Javier Lopez grounded to second but was thrown out by Javier Castillo at shortstop. Yaconetti then dropped a hit just a few feet short of the right-field wall for a double. Yaconetti stole third on a ball but Winfree would fly out behind him.
  Jeremy Pickrel then grounded past first base for a double and opened the back door for Yaconetti. Lahey grounded to third and Pickrel gets tagged going to third.
  The BriSox went three up, three down again in the seventh, but the Twins would extend their lead further.
  Hughes and Patterson both attempted a drop in the outfield and both would fly out. Plouffe doubled to the left-field wall and Deacon Burns singled to second for an RBI. Lopez grounded to third, but first-baseman Brandon Allen errored on a catch, and Burns got an unearned run and Lopez stopped at third. Yaconetti was thrown out at first to close the frame.
  "It would be good to see us on a roll, but we will take it anything," Yaconetti said. "I try and help out on offense, but if not, and then hopefully I can on defense. It seems like we are hitting the ball pretty well right now. A win is a win. Frank [Mata] came in and kept throwing heat. We love to see him come in and close the game every night when we are ahead."
  Medina (1-0) got his first win, allowing four hits and one run in six innings, and Mata earned his seventh save of the season. Marshall took the loss, yielding seven hits and two runs in six innings, striking out 11 batters.
  Winfree lead the Twins going 3-for-4 and Plouffe went 2-for-3. Tartaglia led the BriSox, going 2-for-4.
  "It is all about the pitching," Twins manager Ray Smith said. "Medina came in as our spot starter. He did a heck of a job. We were hoping to get five innings out of him and he gave us six. He worked fast, threw strikes and got ahead of the hitters. We couldn't have asked anything more from Medina.
  "We feel like if we are close in the game and have the lead, if we can get to the sixth from our starter, that we have a few pretty good guys in the seventh and the eighth, even though we lost Sawaski," he said. "That is going to hurt us, but if we can get the ball to Bowlin with the lead, we have a good chance of getting the ball to Mata in the ninth to close the game out.
  "You play as hard as you can for as long as you can and see what happens. Why put pressure on yourself."