By Tim Chambers
“A hitter’s impatience can sometimes be a pitcher’s biggest advantage. That wasn’t the case for Sullivan East hurler Kyle Harris on Monday night versus Elizabethton.
Cody Guess showed the patience of “Job” by ripping a two-out, two-strike single down the right-field line to drive home Quincy Jackson with the winning run in a thrilling 8-7 comeback win for the Cyclones. The senior first baseman had been in a hitting slump and did not start the game. With one swing of the bat he was the toast of the town and big man on campus for a day.
“I was trying to choke up and just stay alive with two strikes,” said Guess about his game winner. “I got a fastball on the outside of the plate and went with it. I was saying “stay fair please” and when I saw it hit fair I was relieved. That by far was my biggest hit ever.”
The Cyclones (23-8) took a 1-0 led in the first inning on a RBI single by Thomas Miller, scoring Wes Montgomery.
Singles by Aaron Boling, Austin White, Ryan Flick and Austin Glover would produce two Patriot runs in the second inning. It might have been more, but a couple of base running blunders would cost the Pats. The last one came when Miller picked off Glover at second after Flick was thrown out at third the play before.
East appeared to have a comfortable lead after going up 6-1 in the fourth inning. Flick had an RBI single. The big blow was a two-run homer by Jordan Jackson over the left-field fence.
’Betsy would cut the lead in half with a pair of runs in the bottom stanza. Miller ripped his second base hit of the game and later scored on an error. Jordan Hinshaw drove home a run with a ground out to whittle some more off the deficit.
“As a team we didn’t want our younger guys to see any panic,” said Elizabethton’s skipper Joe Nix after meeting with his coaches and seniors during the game. “We were able to overcome some early mistakes and our kids did a great job of not getting down and letting the game get away from them.”
The “Cardiac Cyclones” arose from the jaws of defeat in fifth inning to go up 7-6 after scoring four times.
Austin Smith walked, then beat the throw to second base on Chad Pritchard’s sacrifice bunt attempt that enabled both runners to be safe. Wes Montgomery’s single got misplayed, allowing Smith to score.
Elizabethton grabbed the momentum after Ward’s triple tied the game at 6-6. Jackson’s single capped off six unanswered runs scored by the Cyclones. which put the ahead.
Montgomery pitched 3 1/3 innings before giving way to Berry, who finished the game to earn the win.
Flick’s triple in the sixth scored Boling, who had singled, to tie the game at 7-7. It was the only run given up by Berry over the last three frames.
That sat the stage for ’Betsy’s heroic finale.
Jackson led off with a single. Nix elected to hit and run with Hinshaw, and the senior second baseman executed it to perfection — driving a single between first and second that allowed Jackson to take third.
“Jordan has struggled this year and he’ll be the first to tell you but he’s got a great swing,” added Nix. “He’s been a good contact guy for us in the last week and a half and he squared that one up pretty good and drove it through the hole.”
Guess’ game winner by Guess down the right-field line landed about a foot inside the chalk, setting off a celebration among the sea of orange and black spectators.
“He got a lot of pop in his bat,” said Nix about Guess, “but he too has struggled some lately. We were looking for the right spot to hit him in, but nothing felt right up to that point. I told him before the inning started if we got a runner on he would hit — to go up there relax and square one up. I’ll take a line drive down the right-field line any day.”
Berry (5-3) pitched 3 2/3 innings in relief to earn the win. Harris absorbed the loss in his complete-game effort.
Jackson continued his hitting mastery, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Miller batted 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Pritchard and Montgomery each went 1-for-3, but the 1-for-1 effort by Guess outshined them all.
Boling and Flick rang up three hits each for East, which ended their season at 18-11.
Nix said that Berry gutted it despite pitching with his nail completely off. He said they’ll do whatever it takes to win on today.
“He couldn’t get a real good feel for the ball, but McKenly just gutted it and did a great job,” said Nix. “We don’t want to tip our hand, but we’re willing to throw six or seven pitchers if that’s what it take to win on Tuesday.”
Today’s game with Unicoi is set to begin at 6 p.m. at Milligan.
Sullivan East 012 301 0 — 7 9 3
Elizabethton 100 240 1 — 8 10 3
Harris and Jackson. Montgomery, Berry (4) and Miller. W—Berry.(5-3) L—Harris. HR—East, Jordan Jackson