Bristol takes season series from 'Betsy

By Allen LaMountain

   BRISTOL, Va. -- If Mark Knopfler and his group Dire Straits were the 'Sultans of Swing,' then the Elizabethton Twins, of late, would have to be dubbed the Sultans of Swing and Miss.
   Bristol White Sox starter Bryan Miller struck out a career-high 10 hitters in seven innings of work at Boyce Cox Field on Tuesday night in Bristol's 3-2 win.
   Miller (5-3, 4.58) mixed his assortment of pitches very well, and according to manager Nick Leyva, did a great job of "backward pitching."
   "We had a game plan against them and he executed it," Leyva said. "We pitched them backward from what they were expecting, and it kept them off-balance. When they were looking fastball, we threw the curve and vise-versa."
   Miller surrendered just two hits on the night as well, while walking just one batter, and left after the seventh having retired 17 consecutive Twins hitters after giving up a walk to Doug Deeds, who broke the streak with a single in the seventh to lead off the frame.
   "I had a good fastball, working both sides of the plate," said Miller. "What helped was that I had command of all my pitches and had pretty good movement on everything I threw. This is the most strikeouts that I have had in my career."
   Bristol broke through against Twins starter T.J. Prunty in the sixth as Prunty plunked two Sox batters and Brendan Bounds came through for Bristol with a two-run, bases loaded single to stake Miller to a two-run lead.
   Prunty (3-6, 4.47) looked sharp on the hill for 'Betsy over his first five frames before some control problems cost him as he hit Pedro Gonzalez with one away. Darren Ciraco then singled to put BriSox runners on first and second.
   Edgar Varela was retired on a ground ball to Dusty Gomon at first base, moving both runners up 90 feet, and Seth Morris was also plunked setting the stage for Bounds, who has hit the Twins hard in this four-game set.
   "It's frustrating. We wanted to win, this is a battle for first place," said Prunty.
   When asked if he felt fatigued in the sixth. Prunty replied: "I don't I got tired at all. I had a pretty good changeup that I threw for a couple of strike threes, and I didn't really feel that I had lost anything. Things didn't go our way tonight."
   In the seventh, reliever Justin Keeling came in to replace Prunty on the hill, and try to exorcise some of the demons that may have lingered from his last outing in Bristol in which he was hit hard in a nine-run Sox uprising. He was not successful in that endeavor however, as Keeling lasted just two-thirds of an inning before Twins manager Ray Smith decided to go with Jesse Crain to try close things out, and not let the game get out of hand.
   Bo Ivy walked to lead things off in the seventh against Keeling and Anthony Webster singled. Lopez dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up, and when Keeling walked Andy Gonzalez to load the bases, Smith called for Crain.
   Crain got Ciraco to hit a slow roller to second and a heads-up running play by Lopez prevented a Twins inning-ending double play and allowed Ivy to scamper home to give the Sox a 3-0 lead.
   "Those are the kinds of little things that we are doing so well right now," said Leyva. "He made their guy have to tag him and kept the guy from doubling us up."
   'Betsy made it a game in the eighth as Edgardo LeBron dropped a double down the left-field line off Sox reliever Todd Deininger, and one-out later Trent Oeltjen crushed his third homer of the season to cut the BriSox lead to 3-2. Elizabethton wasn't finished just yet though as Peter Martinez tripled down the right-field line, putting the tying run just 90 feet from the plate, and after Deininger issued a free pass to Deeds, Leyva went to his bullpen for Rick Hummel.
   The first hitter Hummel faced was Gomon and on his third pitch to the Twins slugger, he uncorked a pitch that skipped past Sox catcher Charlie Lisk to the backstop as Martinez raced home. The ball took a perfect bounce for Bristol as it caromed right back to Lisk, and his relay to Hummel covering the plate was also perfect as Hummel tagged out Martinez just as he slid home.
   "Hey, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," said Leyva with a smile. "When you are playing well, the bounces go your way, but a lot of it comes from hard work. I think the Twins now know that we are a good team. We have great chemistry on this club."
   The win by Bristol gives the Sox (28-20) a two-game lead over the Twins (26-22) and also gives the Sox the season series at 5-4 as Hummel earned his second save of the season.
   E-Twins notes: The Appalachian League takes a day off today before resuming action with the Twins invading Johnson City for a three-game set with the Cardinals.