The Cyclones scored seven runs in the first two innings and Corey Russell totaled five RBIs in a 16-7 baseball win over University High at Thomas Stadium. The game featured 32 hits.
“We want to come out every day and put pressure on the defense,” said Cyclones’ head coach Ryan Presnell. “We want our pitchers to throw with a little bit of a lead and stay in the dugout for a long time when we’re on offense. We were able to do those things tonight.”
In the hunt for the Class AA Three Rivers Conference title, Elizabethton won for the 12th time in 14 contests after opening the season with a pair of upset losses to Sullivan Central. University High, the top dog in the Class A Watauga Valley Conference, slipped to 11-7 overall.
Russell started the onslaught with a two-RBI single in the top of the first inning. A groundout and a wild pitch pushed across two more runs to make it 4-0.
With Elizabethton ahead 5-1 in the top of the second inning, Russell struck again by cracking another two-run single.
Blasting the top off
Elizabethton crushed it with six runs in the fourth inning. Evan Carter started the ball rolling with an RBI triple. Russell followed with RBI No. 5 on a run-scoring groundout.
Eventually the Cyclones built a 13-2 lead.
Batting out of the No. 9 spot in the order, Nick Johnson totaled four hits and drove in a pair of runs. Russell said Johnson provides an advantage for the Cyclones.
“It’s really nice having someone down in the lineup you can really depend on,” said Russell. “He can really hit it. He really came through tonight.”
Johnson said he was seeing the ball well.
“It was carrying tonight, and we were all hitting the ball great,” said Johnson. “We’ve been hitting the ball really well all week. We’ve had good rounds of BP, and I felt we just brought everything to the table tonight.”
Next up: Sullivan East
The Cyclones will travel to meet the Patriots in a makeup game Saturday at 2 p.m. East is 7-2 in league play while the Cyclones are 5-2.
“We just have to come out and be ourselves and have some intensity,” said Russell. “If we do our thing, we will be fine.”
Elizabethton got nine hits, seven runs and nine RBIs from its top four batters in the lineup. Ethan Eggleston finished with three hits and three RBI while Ryan Wetzel, Carter and Russell each had two hits.
Meanwhile, University High didn’t fold after the 11-run deficit. They Buccaneers battled back to 13-6 and had the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth with a chance to close in further.
UH banged out 14 hits against two Elizabethton pitchers. Jack Bembry led the way with three hits while A.J. Simerly, Carter Pollock and Kaleb Meredith each totaled two hits.
“We competed,” said UH head coach Josh Petty. “The game was getting out of hand early. Our goal was, ‘Let’s not get run ruled.’ We sneaked one across in the fifth inning and got to play two more. You can build from that. I told my guys (the Cyclones) got 18 hits, and they deserved to win the game.”