Marini pitches Twins to Game 1 win over Tribe

Photo by Kristen Luther
Twins pitcher Errol Simonitsch makes an offering in Game 2.
By Marvin Birchfield

   The Elizabethton split with Burlington in doubleheader action on Sunday, with the Twins taking game one 6-2, then dropping the second matchup by the final of 7-1.
   Heading into Sunday's contests the Twins were 2 1/2 games up on second-place Pulaski, and by being able to come away with one of the victories they still remain two games up.
   "Burlington has some good young players and their managers have done a good job of keeping them in the hunt, and the teams with the young guys are always the one's that improve the most," said Elizabethton Twins manager Ray Smith. "They've done a good job of getting the most out of what they are blessed with."
   A little bit of a shaky start for pitcher Chris Marini enabled the Indians to grab an early lead of 2-0 in the top of the first of Game 1, but he was able to respond with a solid showing.
   "I really wasn't locating my fastball very well and the ball was coming up, but I started getting on top of it better as the game went on getting in the lower spots of the zone," said Marini.
   Back-to-back singles from Brandon Pinckney and Caleb Brock were followed by a walk to Chris Clem, which loaded the bases with two outs.
   A grounder to left field from Teodora Encarnacion drove home Pinckney and Brock, giving Burlington the early advantage.
   The Indians struggled from the mound also, with Adam Miller surrendering two hits and two runs.
   A shot from J.R. Taylor up the middle, and single to shallow left field by Dusty Gomon loaded the bases for Elizabethton with just one out.
   Two consecutive walks to Jesse Collins and Ron Perodin brought Taylor and Kyle Phillips to the plate to tie the contest at 2-2 after the first inning of play.
   Marini started to settle down after the first frame, as he didn't allow any more runs to cross in the next four innings.
   "We seem to be swinging the bat a little better right now, and our pitching has been solid all year, so it's great that everybody seems to be helping out by doing their job right now," said Marini.
   Elizabethton grabbed the lead in the bottom of the second, and didn't look back.
   A leadoff double down the left-field line from Angelo Fermin put the go-ahead run in position, and a hit up the middle by Denard Span gave the Twins their first taste of the lead.
   Gomon drove in the next score with a sacrifice-fly to center field, which brought in Span.
   The Twins elected to bring in Eric Brandon to replace Marini at the mound during the top of the sixth, as Burlington continued in struggling to string together consecutive hits.
   "We pretty much have confidence in anyone coming out and pitching for us, so it's pretty nice knowing that your pitching is going to be there for you," said Marini.
   Two runs were added by the Elizabethton in the bottom of the fifth, after Perodin and Ryan Spataro led off with singles to start the inning.
   A fielder's choice by Span brought home Perodin, while a groundout from Taylor drove in Spataro.
   Argenis Reyes was able to capture a hit for the Indians in the final frame, but a field and throw from Taylor to Fermin at second base was turned into a double-play to end the contest.
   The second matchup of the night started off just like the first game did, with the exception of Elizabethton not being able to dig itself out of the early hole.
   Burlington captured a 3-0 lead during the top of the first, as a grounder to left field from Encarnacion drove in Reyes.
   Chris Clem made a base hit to score Pinckney, while a groundout from Mike Woodson brought home Encarnacion.
   Span led off with a hit for Elizabethton in the bottom of the first, but the Twins offense sputtered from then on, acquiring just one more hit for the remainder of the night.
   "We ran up against some good pitching in that second game, and I thought we might be able to get to them early, but we just couldn't get a swing on the ball and he started getting into the groove after that," said Smith.
   Fermin was able to connect on a triple that bounced off the right-field wall in the fourth frame, which produced the only run of the contest for Elizabethton.
   A sacrafice to center field from Gomon scored Fermin, but the Twins were unable to make contact with the bats as they let an opportunity to score escape during the sixth frame.
   Two runs crossed for Burlington in the top of the fifth when Luis Hodge crushed a triple to right field, which brought home Reyes and Pinckney.
   A shot up the middle from Clem scored Hodge and Encarnacion to give the Indians a commanding lead of 7-1 after four and a half innings.
   Arron Laffey was replaced by Jonathan Amador during the sixth frame after issued two straight walks, and another one loaded the bases but the Twins weren't able to capitalize.
   Amador continued to finish up the contest, as he struck out the last two batters he faced in the final frame.
   "We've been pretty consistant here lately, and we've finally been able to straighten out our middle relief so that they can keep us in there to put it in the hands of our closers," said Smith.