Twins build steam for Appy playoffs

By Wes Holtsclaw
KINGSPORT -- One thing's for certain, the West Division Champion Elizabethton Twins will be playing in the Appalachian League Championship series this week against the Martinsville Astros.
However, the Twins still had unfinished business with three final games on the road against the Kingsport Mets, beginning with a doubleheader Sunday night at Hunter-Wright Stadium.
With 14 hits in the opening seven-inning outing, Elizabethton blasted past Kingsport with an 8-1 victory. The Twins followed up with a 12-7, come-from-behind win in Game 2.
In Game 1, Justin Arneson led Elizabethton with a three of four outing with three ribbies, while four other Twins had a pair of hits apiece.
"It was a good game. Like I said before, as a team we can hit, it's just a matter of putting it all together," Arneson said. "Tonight we were off to a slow start, but we got it going and everybody started putting it in play."
After winning two of their last three on the road against Bristol, Kingsport fell apart in the first game, but Mookie Wilson has been pleased with the Mets' recent effort.
"We've been playing pretty well. We've come a long ways and made a lot of progress, but we were just playing lazy tonight," said the Kingsport manager. "Of course, it's towards the end and you can kind of expect those things out of kids these age. But you look for a better effort, but overall I've been pleased."
Elizabethton and Kingsport opened with a hit apiece. Ron Perodin singled for the Twins, while Met designated hitter Lastings Milledge doubled.
However, the Twins got a scoring spree started with a Brock Peterson double, followed by an Arneson RBI single. They picked it back up in the fourth inning after Josh Johnson walked, as Arneson battled around with an RBI double.
The 'Betsy Bombers kept rolling in the fifth with singles from Angelo Fermin and Perodin. Kyle Phillips stepped up with a big RBI single to put the Twins up 3-0 going into the bottom of the fifth.
Elizabethton had another chance to score in the fifth after singles from J.R. Taylor and Ryan Spataro. However, Kingsport's defense quickly shut them down.
It was a different case in the seventh inning after two outs, when Peterson singled and Johnson grabbed a base on an errored shot. It set up Jason Pospishil, who hammered a shot into left-center field with a two-run triple.
The Australian scored on the next pitch as Arneson drove across another run to put Elizabethton up 6-0.
Taylor added a double for Spataro, who rifled a grounder to Kingsport second baseman Marcos Cabral for Kingsport's third error of the game, driving across two more runs to push the score to 8-0.
The Twins' rally continued with a Fermin single, but Perodin struck out to end the top of the frame.
The Mets finally scored in the bottom of the seventh after Jamar Hill led off with a double to set up a Johan Camacho RBI hit to cut it at 8-1.
But it was too late as the Twins closed things out for the victory.
Fermin, Perodin, Peterson and Taylor all added two hits apiece for Elizabethton, while four different Met hitters got into the hit column.
The last few games are big for Elizabethton, according to Arneson and Taylor, so they keep their focus going into the playoffs.
"The main key is that we've got to stay focused," Arneson said. "Those games are big, but we're not thinking about those games. This is the regular season still, and we need to finish them out strong. We're playing hard and that's what we're going to keep doing until we're done."
Taylor added: "We don't have a no quit policy, we're just trying to win as many games as we can. If we fall off and take these games too lightly, we might do the same thing in the playoffs. We want to win that ring."
John Uhl picked up the victory for Elizabethton on the mound with a solid five innings of work. John Lynch took the save.
In the nightcap, Elizabethton trailed 7-6 in its final turn at the plate, but erupted for six runs, with the first four off Kingsport's ace reliever, Celso Rondon.
Peterson hammered a three-run double to put the Twins in the lead, and later scored on a Pospishil RBI single.
Peterson also had a two-run homer in the game to finish with five RBIs.
Elizabethton caps off its regular schedule with a 7 p.m. outing in Kingsport tonight.
TWINS PLAYOFF NOTES: The Twins home playoff game against the Martinsville Astros will take place Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Joe O'Brien Field.
Ticket prices are $5 for reserved seating, $3 for general admission and $2 for students and seniors. Be sure to come out and support the Twins and enjoy the entertainment of the Blues Brothers Band featuring Jake and Elwood Blues.