Twins fall to Princeton

Photo by Dave Boyd
E-Twins pitcher John Uhl held Princeton at bay until the fourth.

By Michelle Prater

   A broken leg didn't allow a damper to be placed on what was supposed to be Blues Brothers night at Joe O'Brien Field.
   Even the professional comedy act is depending on Elizabethton to make the playoffs, so they can redeem themselves and return to amuse on the first night of the playoffs, once the broken leg can be dealt with.
   "It's an awesome thing," said team general manager Mike Mains. "You've got the baseball game, which will be so exciting, and then throw in that, it'll be a lot of fun for families."
   He urges fans to come out for a few hours and watch the game and show.
   "It can't get any better than that, really," he added.
   As they do every season, the players recognized and honored their host families before the game. The autographed framed pictures which have hung on the ball field wall all season were finally taken down, and the Twins wrote a special note of thanks on their pictures and presented the pictures to their host families.
   Approximately twenty players were taken in by area families this season.
   "That says a lot about our team, and about the families too," said Mains. "These guys are good quality young men."
   After a win over Princeton Monday night, the Twins were unable to hold their game together to pull off two wins in a row, dropping an 8-3 decision. The Devil Rays flipped the game over on Elizabethton after the Twins had a good start in the first inning with two runs.
   "Last night we came out and we were aggressive, and we forced the issue, we attacked the other team, offensively and defensively. We ran the bases well." said Twins manager Ray Smith. "Tonight, it was like we were back in square one. It was like we hadn't played together for 70 games like we have.
   Elizabethton started the game out well. After getting two of Princeton's first three batters out in the infield, and with a strikeout from Twins pitcher John Uhl, the game progressed quickly into the bottom of the first inning for the Twins.
   Two steals by Denard Span and Dusty Goman gave Elizabethton the boost they needed to score two runs, one on a walk by Princeton pitcher Brandon Mann, and the second driven in by a base hit from Justin Arneson.
   Things went downhill for the Twins in the fourth inning, however. The Devil Rays batted all the way around, sending 10 men to the plate against Uhl and his relief pitcher, John Lynch.
   A walk from Uhl and a double by Princeton left fielder Fernando Frias put the Devil Rays in scoring position, and another base hit from Travis Schlichting turned Princeton's score of one into a two.
   Salvador Paredes' turn at bat was helpful to the Devil Rays, as he hit a double, sending another runner home, and a wild pitch allowed another run on the scoreboard.
   Smith took that opportunity to change pitchers, sending Lynch in, and the next batter was tagged out at first base for the first out of the inning, after the Devil Rays had already scored three runs.
   Chad Cooper kept the running streak going for Princeton, sending Paredes home and gaining a base. Shaun Cumberland followed up with another single, and after Dusty Gomon got the second out for the Twins with an unassisted play at first, Princeton pinch hitter Travis Beech reached first base on a pass ball, and then proceeded to steal second during Bud Woodruff's turn at bat.
   The outfield decided to put an end to the scoring, however, and right fielder Justin Arneson caught a fly ball off of Woodruff's bat.
   "I really wasn't even satisfied with the intensity of the game," said Smith. "You'd think that as a club that's fighting for a championship, that we would come out here and show championship level intensity, no matter who we're playing."
   Both teams scored a run each in the fifth inning, with Paredes' third RBI of the game for Princeton, and a deep hit to left field by Ron Perodin that sent Brock Peterson across the plate for Elizabethton.
   The remainder of the game was a pitcher's duel, with Iida Hiroyuki and Tim Henkenjohann defending for Elizabethton, and Jose Willie Delacruz and Joan Rodriguez holding off runners for Princeton, ending the game in a 8-3 win for the Devil Rays.
   "We took advantage of some walks, and we took advantage of putting the balls in holes," said Princeton manager Jamie Nelson. "On the other side of the coin, they hit some balls really hard, right at people. So we got some breaks, we played better than we played in awhile."
   Nelson knew the competition was tough, but he was proud of his team for pulling through.
   "If we play our best game, and they play their best game, they're a better club than we are," he said. "They're a more experienced club, but that doesn't mean that we can't beat them. And tonight, we played better than they did."
   Game Notes: Errol Simonitsch was named and recognized before last night's game as Appy League Pitcher of the Month with three wins in six games, three allowed runs, 16 hits, two walks and 31 strikeouts in 24 innings, with an ERA of 1.12.
   Kyle Phillips was named and recognized before last night's game as league Player of the Month. In 12 games, he hit .451, scored seven runs, had 23 hits, 15 RBIs and seven doubles in 51 at-bats.