BY JEFF BIRCHFIELD, Johnson City Press
ERWIN — To say the Elizabethton baseball team is currently on a roll is an understatement.
With pitcher Matthew Dailey throwing 12 strikeouts and giving up just two hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings, the Cyclones rolled to a 7-0 win over Unicoi County on Tuesday night at Baxter Field.
The Cyclones (18-4 overall, 10-0 Three Rivers Conference) have now won eight in a row and 16 of their last 18 games. Up by five runs early, they were never in any danger against the Blue Devils (10-12, 5-5).
Dailey faced all but one batter before Lawson Wagner came in to throw another strikeout. He was in command all game, and even aided his cause with a first-inning solo home run over center field.
“When I didn’t get a strikeout, I just let them hit them and let the guys behind me back me up,” Dailey said. “Then hitting the ball, were just on tonight. We had good energy coming in and we were seeing the ball tonight.”
It was one of three Elizabethton home runs.
Bryson Rollins had a two-run shot, also in the first inning, as the Cyclones raced to a 4-0 lead — and Karson Dillard later added a solo shot. Dailey and Dillard each finished 2 for 4 at the plate and Dillard also scored two runs.
Jaden Anderson and Wagner each added two hits and a RBI. The Cyclones pounded out 10 hits overall.
“They have decided who they are and they’ve come up with an identity,” Elizabethton coach Ryan Presnell said. “Even on nights I don’t feel like we hit the best, they’re still doing all the things they need for us to win a baseball game. They’re taking care of the things they can control and not worrying about the things out of our control.
“It was hard getting over last year (when Elizabethton made it to the state tournament). It’s like are we going to try to be them or are we going to try to be us. It’s like, ‘We’re going to be us.’”
With Unicoi County’s batter-friendly park, the Cyclones changed their approaches a little for the power hitting. It obviously worked out in a big way, with the team up five runs over the first two innings.
Peyton Whitson suffered the loss for the Blue Devils. He went 4 1/3 innings, giving up nine hits but striking out 10 batters before giving way to Caleb Metcalf, who gave up just one hit and recorded another pair of strikeouts over the final 2 2/3 innings.
Ramon Avila and Robbie O’Dell had hits for Unicoi County, which went 4-0 last week before dropping back-to-back games to Elizabethton.
“We had been playing well and got a good win Saturday against Cherokee,” Unicoi County coach Chad Gillis said. “Last night, we had six errors. We were expecting a good game tonight, but we kicked it around and they hit it out of the park. We’ll live to see another day.
“I was telling Coach Presnell we’ve got to get back to what we were building last week. We’ll get back with it and we’ll be all right.”