Axmen fall River Riders in the opening game of series
BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
The Elizabethton River Riders were hoping to wash the Kingsport Axmen down the Watauga River in the opening game of their two-game series on Tuesday evening in Appalachian League play.
Things looked good in the early going as Elizabethton scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but just like the early rain brought cooler temperatures, the River Riders also cooled off and ended up falling to Kingsport by a 7-3 score.
After setting the visitors down in the top of the first inning, Elizabethton opened up the bottom portion of the frame with a single by centerfielder Logan Sanders to left field.
Sanders advanced to second base on a wild pitch and took third on a ground out by John Montes.
Garrison Berkley worked a walk out of Kingsport pitcher Malik Binns to put runners on the corners for the River Riders. An error on a ball hit by Robin Fernandez brought Sanders to the plate and chased Berkley to third base to make it 1-0 River Riders.
A fielder’s choice off the bat of DJ Sullivan plated Berkley and Elizabethton had the 2-0 advantage.
Kingsport responded with a four-spot in the top of the second inning as Elizabethton starting pitcher Gehrig Mosiello struggled to find the strike zone and when he did, the Axmen brought out the lumber.
The Axmen scored on a Connor Milton walk to score one run with Dante Leach lacing a single on a 1-0 count to bring home two Kingsport runners.
Will Spears also picked up an RBI from Will Spears who took a 1-2 pitch for a single. The Axmen led 4-2 at that point.
Elizabethton just couldn’t muster enough offense as the River Riders did add one more run in the bottom of the ninth to make it a 7-3 final.
Sullivan drew a lead-off base on balls to open the bottom of the ninth. Mario Zabala and Eli Young were both pegged by pitches by Kingsport reliever and Fordham pitcher Jack Popolizio to load the bases.
A sacrifice fly by catcher Jonathan Soto scored Sullivan for the game’s final run.
Adam Parra was the winning pitcher for Kingsport as the righthander didn’t allow a run and gave up only one hit over two innings striking out three and walking none.
Mosiello absorbed the loss for the River Riders.
Both teams were back in action on Wednesday night to wrap up the two-game series.