Johnson City Press: Cyclones come up one run short in state tourney
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Cyclones come up one run short in state tourney

Douglas Fritz • May 22, 2019 at 11:18 PM

MURFREESBORO — Elizabethton once again had to settle for “close.”

Suffering their second one-run loss in the Class AA state baseball tournament, the Cyclones were knocked out by Nolensville 4-3 on Wednesday evening at Blackman’s David Price Field.

It was a season-ending loss for the Cyclones, who finished 27-10.

“You look back and wish there were some things you could have done different, but not much,” said Elizabethton head coach Ryan Presnell. “We didn’t necessarily hit the ball the way you need to down here.

“But you gotta look at the fact: Here we are in the final six with the hand we were dealt. That’s incredible. It’s just an amazing effort.”

Nolensville, which defeated the Cyclones 2-1 in the opening round, advanced to Thursday’s bracket championship against Covington. The Knights would have to beat Covington twice to reach Friday’s state title game.

Elizabethton stayed alive earlier on Wednesday with a hard-fought 4-2 win over Pigeon Forge.

CONTROVERSIAL FINAL PLAY

In both of Elizabethton’s losses, the final play of the game was disputed. On Tuesday, it was a throwing error that involved a collision at first base. On Wednesday, Evan Carter came to the plate with a runner on first base and two outs. He hit a towering popup that was bobbled by the second baseman, who tried to gather it back in before it hit the ground.

The Cyclones’ coaches protested and the umpires huddled to discuss. Their decision was an out and the game was over.

FATEFUL FIRST

The Cyclones seemed to be ready to rock, loading the bases and scoring a run on a wild pitch in the top of the first inning. But they couldn’t get a crooked number.

In the bottom of the first, the Knights got a single, hit batter, and an RBI single from Dawson Conder to tie the game. A wild pitch made it 2-1, and Nolensville added a run on an Elizabethton error.

MOMENTUM CHANGE

Nolensville pulled out to a 4-1 lead on Aidan Young’s RBI squeeze bunt in the fourth inning. But the Cyclones rallied in the fifth inning.

Nico Ashley got it started with a leadoff single and Karson Dillard drove him home with a hard-hit double down the left field line. With one out, Evan Carter hit a deep ball to center field for a sacrifice fly, cutting the Knights’ lead to 4-3.

LEADERS

Conder came up big for Nolensville. He not only had two hits at the plate, he went the distance on the mound. He allowed six hits and three runs, two earned, with two walks and two strikeouts.

For Elizabethton, Lawson Wagner persevered on the mound. He went the distance, allowing five hits and four runs, three earned. He walked one and struck out two.

Karson Dillard continued his impressive work behind the plate, nailing two more would-be base stealers.

LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE

Presnell said the plans for the 2020 season will begin on the bus ride home.

“I guarantee on the way home tomorrow, we will start working again,” said Presnell, whose team has won three state tournament games over the past two seasons.

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