E-Twins hold off Mets

By Allen LaMountain
ASST.SPORTS EDITOR
alamountain@starhq.com

   On miniature bat night at Joe O'Brien Field, the sticks wielded by the Twins and Mets were anything but "mini-me's."
   Elizabethton and Kingsport combined for seven home runs and four doubles as the Twins held off a Mets ninth-inning rally to take a 9-7 win on Monday night.
   Felix Molina, Danny Matienzo, Doug Deeds and Sandy Hiraldo each went yard for 'Betsy while Laron Wilson, Jamar Hill, Brandon Wilson and Tyler Beuerlein touched them all for Kingsport, as the Mets attempted to erase a 9-3 Twins lead in the final stanza.
   When asked if he was pleased with his team's comeback effort, Mets manager Joey Cora said: "I'm not pleased at all. I'm pretty well pi** ed off. We give up too many big innings, and when we have one it's not enough."
   Cora was referring to the six spot that the Twins put up on his squad with two away in the seventh frame to take a 9-3 advantage going into the ninth. Kingsport was able to get four of those runs back, but Ryan Smith, the fifth Twins hurler of the night, finally stopped the bleeding.
   T.J. Prunty (3-6, 4.48) got the start and through five frames held a 3-2 lead, but as has been the story of his season, the tying run scored in his last inning on the hill and he had to settle for a no decision for his six innings of work.
   "It does seem like that's definitely the case," said Prunty. "I don't have a lot of room for error when I'm out there. But I'm happy. I pitched well, we scored a bunch of runs and got a win."
   In the last of the second Matienzo launched his fifth blast of the season -- a solo shot -- to stake the Twins to a 1-0 lead, but I the top of the third the Mets answered back.
   Derran Watts reached on a two-out infield single and Hill plated him with a two-bagger to left to tie the game at 1-1 and in the fourth Brandon Wilson's second homer of the year gave the Mets a 2-1 lead.
   "It was a good spot to throw the curveball in, but it hung up there," said Prunty. "I thought that Guzman was going to catch that one, it was awfully close. I made a couple of mistakes out there, and they made me pay for them."
   'Betsy plated two in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead as Hiraldo deposited a Sean Elliott pitch over the fence in right-center field with Edgardo LeBron aboard. For Hiraldo, it was his sixth home run of the season from his customary ninth spot in the batting order.
   "He's a great guy to hide down there," said Twins manager Ray Smith. "He goes down and gets a good swing at those low fastballs, and he shows some power."
   In the sixth, with one down, Beuerlein tied the contest with his fourth homer of the season, but Prunty retired the next two Kingsport hitters and handed the reins over to Josh Hill in the seventh.
   Hill put the Mets down on one hit in the seventh and eighth frames as the Twins were seemingly putting this one away with a six-run seventh. Hill went two innings striking out two and issuing one free pass.
   The seventh started innocently enough with Justin Sims reaching on an infield error and with one out Hiraldo reached on an infield hit to put Twins runners on first and second. Trent Oeltjen then lined to center to bring up Molina.
   "I was looking for that pitch," said a smiling Molina. "When I hit it I knew I hit it good, it felt good. I don't think I ever hit a ball that far."
   Molina's third blast of the season gave 'Betsy a 7-3, and Deeds followed Molina with his sixth homer of the season to make it an 8-3 game. 'Betsy wasn't quite finished with Mets reliever Jeff Brewer just yet, however, as Garret Guzman and Daniel Marin hit back-to-back doubles to plate one more Twins run and chase Brewer.
   Brewer pitched one and two-thirds innings, giving up six runs (none earned) on five hits, walking one and fanning one.
   Lefty Sean Farrell came in and retired Sims, who came to the plate for the second time in the stanza.
   All that was left to do, it seemed was for Isaac Streich to retire the Mets in the ninth for 'Betsy's fourth straight win, but Streich wasn't up to the task.
   Brendan Mannix was plunked to open the frame, but Streich got Johan Camacho to hit into a double-play to bring the last hope for Kingsport to the plate. Pinch-hitter Laron Wilson hit his first professional home run to make it a 9-4 game, and when Streich proceeded to walk both David Housel and Watts, Smith called on Justin Keeling to put out the flames.
   Hill greeted Keeling with his third homer of the year to make it a 9-7 game as Ryan Smith warmed up quickly in the bullpen. Smith was hardly automatic, though, as he struck Aaron Baldiris with a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate in Beuerlein, who tapped back to Smith to end the drama for the evening.
   For Smith, it was his third save of the season.
   E-Twins notes: Matienzo injured the index finger of his throwing hand on a play at second base and will be given X-ray's in the morning to determine the extent of the injury. With Matienzo possibly going down it gives the Twins just one healthy catcher in Marin.
   "We'll see if Jeff (Reed) has got any more exemptions left," joked Smith, himself a former major league catcher. "Maybe we can get Joe Mauer to come back for the last week or so."