Tribe trips Twins

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

   On Saturday night a new Twins single-season attendance record was set at Joe O'Brien Field. Unfortunately, the record-setting crowd was let down by a lackluster performance by Elizabethton, which dropped a 5-3 decision to the Burlington Indians.
   'Betsy's best chance to take control of this ballgame was nailed shut by former Sullivan South and East Tennessee State hurler Reid Casey, who put down a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the sixth and gave the Tribe a huge shot of momentum in the process.
   "He came into the game in a tough situation," said Burlington manager Rougles Odor. "Struck out the first guy and got the double play, which was huge. Casey has done an outstanding job for us, and I feel that he has the ability to go as far as he wants to in baseball."
   Casey pitched three scoreless frames of one-hit ball, walking one and fanning the most important hitter he faced.
   The Tribe struck for a pair of runs in the second frame against Twins starter T.J. Prunty (3-7, 4.64), who didn't look sharp on this night as he surrendered 12 hits and four runs in his six innings of mound work.
   With one out, Angel Abreu singled and stole second as Josh Novisky fanned for the second out.
   Teodoro Encarnacion then ripped an RBI single to left and Domingo Vasquez followed that with a single to right, which put Indian runners on the corners. Then, perhaps taking advantage of the inexperience of GCL call-up Justin Elliott, they pulled off a perfect double steal that saw Encarnacion slide into the plate well ahead of the relay from Felix Molina, and Burlington had a 2-0 lead.
   "That's been something that has impressed me with these guys, they don't quit," said Odor, whose team took the last two of the four-game set to take the season series 4-3. "The key to developing is to continuously give good effort, win or lose. It's nice to have these types of games at the end of a road trip."
   A solo homer from Novisky in the top of the fourth extended the Tribe's advantage to 3-0, but Doug Deeds answered for 'Betsy in the last of the stanza with his seventh home-run blast of the season to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
   The Twins tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth as Edgardo LeBron singled and was moved to third on a two-bagger by J.R. Taylor. LeBron came in to score on an error by Luis Hodge in left field, and Molina was plated with a triple off the bat of Sandy Hiraldo.
   Lefty Jahseam George relieved Tribe starter Matt Haynes and Hiraldo was cut down at the plate on a ground ball by Molina, and Garret Guzman popped out to end the threat.
   "We missed some opportunities, and didn't dazzle anyone in the field," said Twins manager Ray Smith. "It's tough enough to get three outs and we are giving them four, five outs. That about sums it up, we didn't get it done."
   George would not retire another Twins hitter on the night, however, as in the sixth Deeds singled and George walked both Scott Whitrock and Justin Sims to load the bases as Odor called for Casey.
   "There really wasn't much going through my mind at the time," said Casey. "I knew the situation and I would have been happy to get the double play right off, and maybe only one run would score. Instead I get the K and then the DP, so it worked out for me."
   Casey fanned LeBron for the first out of the frame and got Elliott to bounce into the twin-killing that killed the Twins' chances of a big inning.
   That would be the last real threat 'Betsy would see as Casey and closer Blake Taylor slammed the door on any Twins' comeback with four innings of combined relief work. Taylor put the Twins down on one walk in the ninth for his fifth save of the season.
   E-Twins notes: 'Betsy has several key players nicked right now as Trent Oeltjen, Dusty Gomon and Danny Matienzo are all sidelined, but Smith makes no excuse of that, saying, "It's not like the guys out there are incapable of playing. We're just not doing very well right now."
   Oeltjen and Gomon are day-to-day, but Matienzo is done for the season.
   The former record attendance had been 22,173, and was set in 1978. With three home contests still remaining, 'Betsy has welcomed 22,596 fans into Riverside Park this season.