Cards outslug Twins, 11-9

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   JOHNSON CITY -- The Johnson City Cardinals were flying high on Thursday night as they slipped past the Elizabethton Twins in an 11-9 slugfest at Howard Johnson Stadium.
   "It was a nice job by the top of the order to set the tone, and we swung the bat really well all up and down our lineup in the first few innings," said Cardinal manager Brian Rupp.
   It was looking as if it might be another long night in division play for the last-place Cards in the top of the first, when the Twins captured three runs to grab the early advantage.
   Trent Oeltjen led off with a triple down the right-field line, followed by a hit from Felix Molina, giving the Twins their first score.
   Two more runs were added when Dusty Goman smacked a home run to right field, which brought home Molina.
   The Cards responded in the bottom of the frame to score six runs and grab the lead.
   "When you face a team with a bunch of big free-swingers, and you put the ball up the middle of the plate, then there is going to be some damage done," said Elizabethton manager Ray Smith.
   A single to right from Andrew Davie brought the first score home, with Mike McCoy crossing the plate.
   Davie ended the night by going 4-for-5 at the plate, along with a homer and two RBIs.
   "Davie did a really nice job tonight, and he's been working hard. I'm glad it's finally paying off for him," said Rupp.
   A hit to left from Joseph Mather drove in Terry Evans, and a double by Justin Hileman brought home two more runs.
   Tim Belz drove home Hileman with a single, and a walk with bases loaded scored Zach Cates.
   This prompted the Twins to make a pitching change, with Tim Henkenjohann replacing Nick Blackburn to help the Twins escape a disastrous inning.
   Davie struck again in the second frame, when he got a piece of one that sailed over the right-field wall.
   The Cards had stretched their advantage to 7-3 after the first two innings of play.
   The Twins stormed back in the top of the third, by capitalizing off a couple of errors and connecting on four hits.
   It started with an error at shortstop, which allowed Doug Deeds to make it home.
   A rip up the middle from Garret Guzman pushed across Goman, and a bunt from Scott Whitrock scored Danny Matienzo.
   The last two runs came, when Edgardo LeBron crushed a double to left-center field drove in Guzman and Whitrock.
   "It doesn't really matter how the game starts, but the key is how the game ends, and you have to just keep digging and clawing to see how the dust settles after nine innings," said Smith.
   It didn't take the Cards to get the wake-up call, as they answered the challenge to bring home four scores in the bottom of the third.
   With the bases loaded, Evans came through to hammer a shot down the left-field line, bringing-in Belz, McCoy and Nolasco.
   Davie was still relentless, as he connected another hit down the right-field line, which brought home Evans to give the Cardinals an 11-8 lead.
   "It's just nice to get a win, and it doesn't matter how we got there, but nice to get there in the end," said Rupp.
   There was not much offense by either side after the third, as only one more run was scored by the Twins in the top of the sixth.
   Whitrock led off with a double to left center-field, followed by a fielder's choice from Inocencio Hiraldo that brought home the run.
   John Killalea picks up his third win of the season for the Cards on the mound, while Henkenjohann receives the loss.
   Oeltjen and LeBron led the Twins at bat by each going 2-for-4 on the night. Mather contributed a 2-for-3 effort for the Redbirds.
   "This is only one game and we just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow," said Smith.
   The two clubs square off tonight in Johnson City, then meet in Elizabethton on Saturday.