Disappointing finish… Axmen plate three runs in sixth to defeat River Riders
BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
The old adage ‘It’s not how you start but how you finish’ has been used billions of times with several million of those coming in the game of baseball.
Add one to that growing list as the Elizabethton River Riders came out playing some good baseball to lead 3-1 after five innings, but the Kingsport Axmen threw a hatchet into the River Riders party in the top of the sixth scoring three runs and hold on for a 4-3 win to sweep Elizabethton at Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark.
Kingsport took the lead early by plating a solo run in the top of the second inning.
Jordan Valera-Payne roped a one-out double to right field to put Kingsport in business. Anthony Tulimero laced an RBI single to score Valera-Payne to give the Axmen the lead.
Elizabethton responded in the bottom of the third with two runs to push ahead of the Axmen 2-1.
Jonathan Soto opened up the bottom of the frame with a single to left field. Soto took advantage of a wild pitch to scoot over to second base. An error on a hard-hit ball by Eli Young to second base allowing Soto to race home for the first run of the night for Elizabethton.
A sacrifice bunt by Reagan Guthrie advanced Young to second base. John Montes lined out to short for the second out of the inning but Elizabethton wasn’t done.
Mario Zabala walked to put runners at first and second. DJ Sullivan also drew a base-on-balls to load the bags full of River Riders.
A third straight walk to Garrison Berkley put the home team on top 2-1 when the half-inning came to a close.
The River Riders increased their lead in the bottom of the fourth after holding Kingsport scoreless in the top of the inning.
Soto singled with one out and was chased home when Young smoked a double to left field to push Elizabethton’s lead to 3-1.
However, Kingsport found an answer in the sixth by scoring three to retake the lead with two Axmen already out.
Ben Rozenblum singled and Conner Milton walked for Kingsport. Valera-Payne followed up with an RBI single to score Rozenblum making it a 3-2 contest.
Tulimero hit a pop fly to Montes at short who committed an error on the play allowing both Valera-Payne and Milton to score to make it 4-3 Axmen.
The River Riders were unable to answer the Axmen’s rally and dropped the contest.
One positive side for the four pitchers who saw action for Elizabethton as they recorded 13 strikeouts on the night with Drew Gillespie getting six of those K’s.