Kingsport rallies to top Twins

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

   KINGSPORT -- In a game that wasn't decided until the last at-bat, the Kingsport Mets overcame a two-run Elizabethton lead early and a one-run Twins lead late to hand 'Betsy a 7-6 loss on Sunday night at Hunter-Wright Stadium.
   Twins manager Ray Smith handed the reins to closer Pat Neshek in the ninth, with the Elizabethton nursing a 6-5 lead. Neshek, with 12 saves on the season, thus far has been all but untouchable this season, but Neshek was touched for a pair of runs and absorbed his first defeat of the year.
   "That's the nature of this game," said Smith. "Neshek has gotten us a lot of wins this season, but maybe he didn't have quite his best stuff tonight, I don't know."
   The Twins erased a one-run deficit in the second frame as Edgardo LeBron legged out a two-out infield single and Peter Martinez followed with a base knock.
   J.R. Taylor plated LeBron with a single to left, but the cutoff man for Kingsport -- starting pitcher Rafael Castro -- threw the relay into leftfield as Martinez and Taylor scooted around to score on the three-base error and gave the Twins a 3-1 lead.
   That lead was short-lived -- as were most advantages on this night -- as Jamar Hill blasted an opposite field two-run homer off the light post in right field to knot things at 3-3.
   Kingsport took a 4-3 lead against Betsy starter Nick Blackburn (2-3) in the sixth as Roberto Solano ripped a double to open the frame and came in on a two-out hit by Yylush Soto.
   The see-saw continued in the eighth and ninth stanza's as 'Betsy tied the game at 4-4 on a homer by Garret Guzman, but reliever Ryan Smith surrendered a roundtripper to Tyler Beuerlein as the Mets once again went up by a run.
   "Our coaches always tell us that if your not sure about the pitch your going to throw that it's the wrong one," said Smith. "I shook off the curveball, because (Beuerlein) was late on the 3-2 fastball. So I thought that I would pump one more by him."
   With their backs against the wall 'Betsy plated two in the ninth as LeBron stroked a single and Martinez blasted a double off the rightfield wall.
   A wild pitch by Mets reliever Jeff Brewer on a strikeout by Taylor allowed LeBron to score and a beautifully placed bunt by Scott Whitrock scored Martinez.
   "We had no chance on that play," said Brewer (1-1), who ended up the winning pitcher in the game. "Baldiris was playing back, and who expected that from a big hitter like Whitrock. I'm glad the guys picked me up tonight."
   Neshek plunked Yunior Garcia to open the ninth and Johan Camacho sacrificed him to second and Jesus Linares hit a shot back up the middle to put runners on the corners.
   Hill then hit a bouncer to Felix Molina at third and his throw to the plate beat Garcia, but Danny Marin couldn't handle the throw and the game was tied 6-6.
   Neshek fanned Baldiris for the second out, but Solano completed his three-for-five night at the dish with a cue shot down the first base line for the winning run.
   "It seemed like whoever batted last would win tonight," said Mets manager Joey Cora. "It feels good to win one every once in a while."