Whitrock homer lifts Twins

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   The Elizabethton Twins had three hits on Thursday night against the Burlington Indians.
   They only needed one of those.
   A two-run blast by Scott Whitrock in the bottom of the sixth inning propelled the Twins to a 2-0 victory over the Indians at Joe O' Brien Field.
   Whitrock did his damage after Trent Oeltgen reached base with one out. Whitrock then belted one over the fence in left center field off reliever Jimmy Schultz.
   It was a hit that proved to be the game-winner.
   "The pitch I got was an inside fastball," Whitrock said. "I had two strikes on me, and I was just trying to hit the ball."
   The Twins didn't hit the baseball very well on this night, but Whitrock's blast was all the hometown team needed to pull out the victory.
   "We didn't hit very many balls hard," Twins manager Ray Smith said. "We only hit two balls hard, but we were very efficient in that one of our hard hits was a two-run jack. We won the game 2-0, so it was an efficient offense. It wasn't much of an offense, but what we did get was very efficient."
   The home run was the biggest play of the game, but this night belonged to the pitchers.
   Burlington's Dan Cevette gave up just one hit in five innings of work. Cevette was good, but Elizabethton's Ricky Barrett was nothing short of spectacular.
   Barrett struggled in the first inning, but breezed after that. Barrett gave up just three hits and struck out 13 in six innings on the mound.
   Barrett allowed the bases to get loaded to start the game. After he pitched out of that jam, it was smooth sailing.
   At one time, Barrett struck out five batters in a row.
   "He got off to a little bit of a shaky start," Smith said. "He wasn't getting his arm out front and stuff. But he battled and made some pitches with the bases juiced there. But from the second through the sixth he was dominant. He shut them down. He attacked and he threw the best breaking ball I've seen him throw all year long. It was a late and tight break, and it was going straight down. And combine that with an upper 80's fastball, and his best stuff of the year was tonight."
   Barrett admitted his stuff was on Thursday.
   "After the first inning I was clicking on all cylinders," Barrett said. "My fastball was a little bit harder today. I was about 88 to 90. And everything was working. My change-up was working and so was my slider. I was trying to keep them off balance all night. That's sort of what I did."
   Ryan Smith came in to pitch during the seventh, then Pat NeShak closed it out.
   NeShak ran into a little bit of trouble in the eighth inning, as Luis Hodge and José Cruz singled with two men out. But Neshak got Domingo Vasquez to strike out to end the threat.
   Luis Hodge had two hits to lead Burlington. Whitrock, Doug Deeds and Garret Guzman netted the only hits for Elizabethton.
   The Twins win coupled with a Bristol loss to Johnson City on Thursday night now puts Elizabethton within one game of the White Sox in the Appalachian League's West Division pennant race.
   The Twins and the Indians will go at again tonight at 7 p.m at Joe O'Brien Field.
   NOTEBOOK
   * The start of the game was delayed for 40 minutes due to some heavy rain that occurred in the afternoon.
   * Burlington's Chris De La Cruz had his 21-game hitting streak stopped on Thursday night.
   * The Twins win streak is now at seven games.