Region 1-AA Tournament: Cyclones storm back, beat West Greene 3-2 with Perkins walk-off single

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, May 15, 2018

by Larry N. Souders

The West Greene Buffalos were blanking the home standing Cyclones through the top half of fifth inning, 2-0. That’s when Elizabethton went to work on a comeback victory.

After scoring two in the bottom of the fifth, the Cyclones capped off the victory on a walk-off single by Evan Perkins, allowing Ethan Eggleston to score from third in the bottom of the seventh. The 3- 2 victory sends Elizabethton to face the Greene Devils at Hal Henard Elementary in Greeneville on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Region 1-AA finals.

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“We just had confidence all the way through,” said Perkins after Monday’s win. “We’ve just been doing this all year, practicing every day and working through adversity. We just love each other and that’s what got us through it all. I got a fastball and drove it to right center.”

At this point in the season, winning games is all about taking advantage of favorable situations, and that is what the Cyclones did Monday, said Elizabethton head coach Ryan Presnell.

“When you get to this time of year, especially in this one-game format, it’s about taking advantage of opportunities when they’re present,” said Presnell. “In the seventh, after Eggleston’s got to third, we took great advantage of the situation. We have a lot of faith in our guys that someone, somebody is going to get a hit.”

Monday’s victory also earns the Cyclones a TSSAA State Sectional game.

With strong pitching from both starters, West Greene’s Nathan Watson pitched into the seventh, but Cyclones starting pitcher Tre Shoun hurled a complete game with only one of the two runs scored by the Buffalos being earned. Shoun struck out five, giving up a single walk on 91 pitches.

Down 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, the Cyclones Jacob Mullins struck out to start the inning. Nick Johnson was up next and reached on an error when West Greene second baseman Grayson Potter bobbled the grounder and threw late to first. Johnson moved up to second on a wild pitch by Buffalo starter Nathan Watson to Eggleston. Eggleston drove a solid single on a grounder through the hole into right field and then took second on the throw to third. Ryan Wetzel grounded out to third on the first pitch he saw for the second out of the inning.

Evan Carter hit a 0-1 pitch toward second, and Johnson scored the Cyclones first run on the fielder’s choice as Potter fired to first. Eggleston moved up to third on the throw. This brought Corey Russell to the plate. With the count 3-2, West Greene’s Watson uncorked his second wild pitch of the inning allowing Eggleston to score from third, tying the game at 2-2. Carter popped out to short to end the inning, but the come back was on.

The Cyclones Shoun pitched a perfect one-two-three top of the sixth and didn’t allow a runner to make it to second in the seventh, setting the stage for what was to come.

In the seventh, Eggleston came to the plate, and on a 1-0 count, laced a liner into center field.

“We keep a pitching chart over there so I knew what to expect in the count, and our man has been very faithful on keeping that chart, and if it hadn’t been for him painting it on the chart, I might not have been looking for that pitch,” said Eggleston. “I hit an inside fastball.”

The ball skipped by the center fielder and almost went to the wall. What should have been a single ended up with Eggleston on third and nobody out.

Wetzel walked next, bringing Carter to the plate. West Greene made a pitching change, bringing in Noah Carson to put out the fire. Carter drove a fly ball to leftfield but Buffalo left fielder Matthew Smyth made a running catch on the ball with his momentum carrying him towards home. Head coach Ryan Presnell said he was 50-50 on whether to send Eggleston on the play.

The Buffalos then chose to intentionally walk Russell to load the bases bringing Evan Perkins to the plate. Perkins delivered the game-winning hit on a 1-0 count back up the middle allowing Eggleston to score from third for the walk-off win.

Elizabethton’s Evan Carter had three hits while Eggleston and Perkins both had two hits each.