Cyclones claim second-straight district title

Published 12:51 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Cyclones kept up their post-season win streak Tuesday as they topped Unicoi 7-1 for Elizabethton’s second-straight District 1-AA tournament title.
Elizabethton’s victory over Unicoi was ‘Betsy’s fourth-straight win in the tournament, and Cyclones head coach Ryan Presnell made sure to point out that the surge of momentum was no accident and that the Cyclones have been preparing for this since last season’s sub-state loss at Pigeon Forge.
“It has been very intentional,” said Presnell after being drenched in water by a group of excited Cyclones. “From the time that we left Pigeon Forge last year, we knew what we needed to do. We talked on the bus for two hours on the way back . . . So this is on purpose and this is planned.”
It was another night of dominated pitching for the Cyclones bullpen as EHS’s Matthew Dailey started things out. Dailey worked the first two innings as he struck out four batters against one walk. Dailey would have just had one hit against him before being swapped out for Elizabethton’s Lawson Wagner, who finished out the game for the win.
“He (Dailey) gave us some really good innings with some really bad defense,” said Presnell. “We shored the defense up when it mattered. He got us through first two innings, then what about Lawson Wagner. Just a junior and goes out there and battles. Told him at school today that is what he was going to have to do and that is what he did. I am so proud of him”
Over five innings, Wagner struck out five Blue Devils with just one walk. The junior had only three hits and one run against him.
“I just went in trying to do the job I always do, throwing strikes and letting the team behind me do the work,” said Wagner. “They did that tonight. I just want to thank God for helping us through this.”
At the plate, it was a complete team effort as everyone got in on the action. Eight of the Cyclones lineup had a hit with EHS’s Evan Carter finishing the night with two RBIs. Elizabethton’s Nick Johnson didn’t manage a hit but did finish the night with an RBI.
Unicoi took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth with a sacrifice bunt to bring in a run. The Cyclones, however, showed they could do it better as they racked up three runs in the bottom of the frame.
Elizabethton’s fourth-inning output was highlighted by RBI singles from both Ethan Eggleston and Dailey.
EHS kept up production in the fifth with Elizabethton’s Corey Russell, who was selected as the tournament’s MVP, coming home on an error after the ball was put into play by teammate Logan Estep. The run gave Elizabethton a 4-1 lead heading into the sixth.
Russell said that being selected as MVP was nice and everything but not as great as his team winning the district title.
“It is a really big honor, but it is a lot better having the championship,” said Russell. “Coming out as a team and competing like we did. And it is nice knowing that we are going in confident heading into the regions.”
The Cyclones found three more runs in the sixth as Carter collected an RBI single and Wetzel scored during a double play by the Devils.
The Cyclones will now turn their attention to the Region 1-AA tournament which will begin Monday as Elizabethton hosts the District 2-AA runner-ups.

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