E-Twins bombs hold back Cards

Published 10:43 pm Friday, July 22, 2016


It was ‘Christmas in July’ at Joe O’Brien Field on Friday night and the Elizabethton Twins and Johnson City Cardinals took turns playing Santa Claus with the lead. After four lead changes the Twins played Scrooge with three home runs and denied the Cardinals with an 12-8 victory.

Roberto Gonzalez, Lewin Diaz and Alex Kirilloff all went deep with Diaz hitting a sixth inning grand slam to give the Twins the lead they never relinquished and their second straight win.

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“We need someone to jump start the offense,” Twins manager Ray Smith said. “We haven’t been scoring a lot of runs up until last week, but we may be getting more consistent now. Maybe some of the troops are starting to absorb Reedy’s instruction. We have been taking extra BP and talking about going to the plate with a hitting plan.”

The Cardinals (15-12) took advantage of wildness from Twins starter Alex Schick who walked one and hit a pair of Johnson City hitters as the Cards plated five runs in the top of the first frame. One run came across on a bases loaded hit by pitch to Bryce Denton which was followed by an RBI single from Caleb Lopes for a 2-0 Cardinals lead.

One out later right fielder Jonathan Rivera tagged a bases clearing double to centerfield to make it a 5-0 JC advantage. The Twins (12-16) struck for three runs in the last of the first inning with shortstop Brandon Lopez opening the stanza with a base hit to center.

Centerfielder Kirilloff then singled to right with one out and Diaz doubled to right to plate a run and leftfielder Shane Carrier hit a sacrifice fly to drive home another. An infield error by third baseman Lopes allowed the third run of the inning to come across.

A two out rally in the last of the second saw Elizabethton tie the game at 5-5 as Lopez and Travis Blankenhorn each singled and second baseman Davis’ fielding error on a ground ball by Kirilloff brought home Lopez. Diaz then drove in his second run of the contest with a single to right.

After the Cards took the lead back on an RBI single from Lopes that plated Andrew Knizner who doubled to open the inning, the Twins re-took the lead following the third error of the night by the JC infield.

Shortstop Allen Cordoba overthrew a ground ball off the bat of Trey Cabbage and Gonzalez followed with a two run opposite field home run over the fence in leftfield to give the Twins their first lead of the contest at 7-6.

The lead didn’t last long as the third lead change in as many half innings saw JC score twice on five hits with Knizner and Denton delivering ribbies to give the Cards an 8-7 lead. The fourth lead change came in the last of the sixth when Diaz crushed an 0-1 pitch over the fence in rightfield with the bases loaded to give the Twins an 11-8 lead.

For Diaz it was his third hit of the contest in four at bats with six runs batted in.

“I was looking for a certain pitch,” said Diaz of his slam. “He threw me one in my last at bat, so I was looking for that. I feel very confident at the plate and I am still working hard. I give it all to God, it is in his hands.”

The inning began with a walk to Lopez and back to back singles from Blankenhorn and Kirilloff before Diaz turned on a fastball from Cards reliever Yeison Medina ( ) who took the loss.

Kirilloff hit a solo shot in the eighth.

E-Twins 12-8

Johnson City 501 200 000 – 8 12 3

E-Twins 322 004 01x – 12 14 2

W – Lujan (2-0) L – Medina (2-2) Sv – Davis (4)