BY DOUGLAS FRITZ, Johnson City Press
Elizabethton went undefeated in the regular season, and the district tournament was no different.
The Cyclones rolled over Sullivan South 9-3 in the championship of the District 1-AA baseball tournament at TVA Credit Union Ballpark on Wednesday night.
It was the third straight district title for Elizabethton, setting a school record. Last year the Cyclones outscored their district opponents 44-3 in four games. In three games this year, Cyclones’ pitchers racked up 19 consecutive scoreless innings before surrendering a run to South in the sixth inning of the title game.
“Absolutely predictable would be the good word I would want to use about these guys,” said Cyclones’ head coach Ryan Presnell. “Happy all around, but we have to get to work for Monday.”
The Cyclones improved to 24-7 and will play host to Claiborne or Greeneville in Monday’s Region 1-AA semifinal. Sullivan South will travel to play one of those teams.
In Wednesday’s first game, Sullivan South came up with four clutch two-out hits in a fourth-inning rally and held on to beat Sullivan East, 10-7, in the losers’ bracket final.
It was a season-ending loss for East (16-14).
CYCLONES TAKING ADVANTAGE
South got a little loose with the defense in the early part of the game, and Elizabethton took advantage for a 3-0 lead after three innings.
Then the Cyclones’ hitters went to work, pounding their way to a five-run fourth inning for a commanding 8-0 advantage.
Elizabethton got it done with just six hits for the game. Jaden Anderson was the only Cyclones’ player with two hits. He also scored two runs.
“We put the ball in play, and it fell,” said Anderson. “We just worked together and Coach P kept us organized.”
Bryson Rollins drove in a pair of runs while Evan Carter walked three times and scored three runs.
WAGNER IN CONTROL
Lawson Wagner battled his way through a couple of challenges, but was strong throughout. He went the distance on the mound, allowing seven hits and three runs, one earned. He walked two and struck out seven.
“I was just doing my thing,” said Wagner. “I was out here against Unicoi last year. I was just throwing strikes and doing my best.”
SOUTH EARNS REGION BERTH
Head coach Anthony Richardson said his team met one of its main objectives.
“That’s what we talked about before the tournament started, we had to win two before we lost two, and that’s what we did,” said Richardson. “That got us to the region. I’m real proud of these guys. These seniors have pulled these younger guys through.”
Sullivan South 10
Sullivan East 7
Trailing 7-4, the Rebels struck for six runs after two outs in the bottom of the fourth.
With a runner on first, Jeffrey Leonard and Austin Monds hit back-to-back singles to make it 7-5. After a hit batter, Cory Williams drew a walk to make it 7-6.
Peyton Stanley then delivered what turned out to be the game-winner, a ripped double to left field for an 8-7 lead. Eli Jennings’ looping single to right field added two more runs.
Stanley, Jennings and Drew Creech each finished with two RBIs. Chase Bowery and Stanley had two hits apiece. Creech got the win on the mound with 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief work.
For East, Hunter Mullins had three hits and two RBIs. Dylan Bartley added two hits and Seth Chafin drove in a pair of runs.