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Cyclones rule Region 1-AA with 9-4 win over Greene Devils

Johnny Wilson • May 16, 2018 at 10:19 PM

It stopped raining long enough Wednesday for the steamrolling Elizabethton baseball team to continue its torrid 2018 playoff run.

The Cyclones hammered Greeneville by a 9-4 count at Thomas Stadium, claiming the Region 1-AA championship and earning a home sectional game in the process.

Third-year Elizabethton coach Ryan Presnell realizes what he has on his hands — a confident ballclub that has won its six postseason games by a combined 56-9 margin.

"It's a super-good ballclub, solid in all aspects of the game," Presnell said. "We had a little hiccup on defense late tonight, but otherwise we didn't blink all night."

The Cyclones (25-8) started fast and hard, scoring three first-inning runs and leading 8-0 through the fourth.

Evan Perkins was the offensive star for the hard-hitting 'Clones, turning in a 4-for-4 effort and driving in five runs.

Perkins lined a three-run double in the fourth to give Elizabethton its 8-0 cushion.

Winning pitcher Evan Carter rode the wave and threw five shutout innings before calling it a night after allowing two runs in the sixth.

GET GOING

The Cyclones wasted no time in showing who's boss, getting RBI-singles from Perkins and Matthew Dailey in the first inning and grabbing a quick 3-0 edge to chase Greeneville starter Jacques Gillespie.

Throughout the game, Elizabethton hit the baseball hard.

"That's the way we've raised these juniors and seniors that we've had for three years now," Presnell said. "We've specifically done some things with our program to get them to the point to where we saw we had gap power and speed on the bases, so we're capitalizing on what we've put together.

"We didn't recruit 'em but the good Lord gave 'em to us. There's something in the water here in Elizabethton that makes the kids run fast and hit hard."

And that distributes a lot of pressure to the opposition.

"Constant pressure is very hard on a pitching staff and a defense, and it's hard on an offense, too," Presnell said. "Our offense puts pressure on their offense — if you're gonna keep up you're going to have to swing and score and put up some crooked-run innings or else."

CARTER DOMINATES

Greeneville (24-11-1) did virtually nothing against Carter until the sixth, and by then the Devils were already down 9-0.

Carter allowed RBI singles in the sixth to Caleb Norris and Trey Massengill before giving way to Corey Russell to close out the seventh.

Otherwise, the righthander was nearly perfect through five innings, allowing only two infield singles and no runner to get past second base.

"I think it's one of those things that can maybe get lost in the shuffle if you just look at the box score," Presnell said. "But from the mound tonight I thought Evan Carter was very dominant.

"He was throwing all pitches for strikes on all counts, and the offense gave him plenty of breathing room."

OTHER STATS

Ryan Wetzel had two of Elizabethton's 10 hits and scored three times. Russell had an RBI, while Carter and Ethan Eggleston each scored two runs.

Greeneville got seventh-inning RBI singles from Gus Fraley and Jordan Idell, both of whom had two base hits.

MOVING ALONG

The Cyclones will next play on Friday when they host Knox Gibbs in sectional play — with a state tournament berth on the line.

"We hope we've set ourselves up as well as we can," Presnell said. "We're at home and we're playing good ball, so we'll go on from here."

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